Did you know that suicide is in the top 10 causes of death in America?
The rise in suicide rates over the past 30 years continues to confuse scientists and researchers. In 2014 alone, almost half a million people were hospitalized for self-inflicted injuries and more than 1 million adults reported having attempted suicide. Recent studies revealed that it is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. In 2014 over 40,000 Americans took their own lives and for every one suicide there are 25 attempts. In light of these staggering statistics, what can we do? The first step is trying to better understand the issue. The second is to know the resources available and be ready and willing to share them with those at risk.
Understanding the Issue:
Suicide is most commonly associated with the mental illness of depression, and although depression is known to lead to suicidal thoughts it does not often lead to final action. What has been proven is that 90% of individuals that take their own lives struggle with mental illness and/or substance abuse. Furthermore there has been an increase in every age group for suicide except with those over 85 years old. The increase in suicides within these age groups has gone up by 25% since 1999 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Today there is an average of 117 suicides per day. Women attempt suicide 3 times more often than men. However, the rates of death vary considerably given that men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide then women.
One of the most difficult aspects of this rising issue with suicide is that spotting the signs can be incredibly difficult and there are many who hide their intentions well. Most but not all who take their lives show warning signs and learning to recognize those signs can be helpful in getting people the help and resources they need. The most common warning signs are:
- -Mentioning wanting to die (this would include writing or posting pictures about it on social media outlets)
- -Talking about feeling hopeless or their being no purpose
- -Statements about being a burden to others
- -Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- -Anxious, agitated or reckless behavior
- -Expressions of feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- -Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- -Displaying extreme mood swings
- -Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- -Looking for a way to kill oneself
For a more extensive list of warning signs and risk factors visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Resources to Know
Understanding what resources are available can give people the confidence to speak up when they are concerned for a friend or loved one and engaging those who exhibit warning signs can make a difference in that person’s life. Listed below are a few resources that can make a difference to a person struggling.
- -For a step-by-step guide on what to do when worried someone might take their life visit https://afsp.org/find-support/worried-about-someone/
- -THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 800-273-TALK (8255) A free, 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources.
It Can Make a Difference
Knowing a lifeline or prevention number may seem like a small resource but it can have big impact on a person considering suicide. On September 7th, a Michigan 9-1-1 call taker received a call from a veteran crisis line. They informed him that there was a woman calling in and stating that she was going to kill herself by walking into traffic. The dispatcher was able to engage the woman using the Smart911Chat feature and gain a lot of information as well as a meet location for the state trooper to be dispatched. Thanks to the enhanced Smart911 capability, the state trooper was then able to meet with this woman and provide the help she needed. The work these crisis lines do to help the individual and provide resources even engaging the help of emergency responders has proven to make a difference.
It is our responsibility to understand the rising need for help and to know the resources available that can save a life. Given the rising numbers of suicides, we cannot afford to let Suicide Prevention Awareness Month pass without taking action. It could one day save a life.