Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to SAVE, and instead of that number decreasing, it is increasing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older have died by suicide. As this number is increasing, we are attempting to push out forms of prevention. Although, these promises are slowly becoming empty.
Recently during the week of Sep. 8, we underwent Suicide Prevention Week, a week-long campaign to inform and engage our health professionals and the general public about suicide and how we can prevent it. While this week of reminders and campaigns are effective, we can easily have these same reminders and campaigns year round.
It should be our duty to be aware of this issue and the effects, as the epidemic of mental illness is sweeping amongst our nation. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), they state that one in five adults experience mental illness and one in six 6-year-olds to 17-year-olds experience a mental health disorder each year. Mental illnesses can be caused by past trauma, environmental stress, genetic factors and biochemical imbalances. Because these factors are extremely common, we must be aware of their effects.
To raise our own awareness, we need to ultimately abolish the stigma. Suicide and its prevention is something that we should discuss, as it is a crisis that we are dealing with. Instead of retracting away, reach out and help someone just by talking to them. According to PsychAlive, when we have these discussions, we need to engage the person in a personable way, explore the situation, identify if the person is having suicidal thoughts, inquire as to why the person may be having these thoughts and assess the overall situation.
Another precaution we can do is identifying certain signs that can be potential factors, which can include disturbed sleep patterns, anxiety, rage, self-hating thoughts, increased usage of alcohol or drugs, hopelessness and an overall mood change. While these are a few, there are multiple other signs that we can look out for.
We also need to understand that there are several resources, such as hotlines and online chat rooms. Sometimes, people aren’t exactly confiding in another person that they know, so these resources can be efficient and helpful.
By taking these steps, we should be able to have these discussions and attempt to help people so everyone understands our current crisis and how we can further prevent it.
If you are experiencing any suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If you wish to find other resources, visit www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources.