This year, this week…you can make a difference. The issue of suicide is always a bit scary, both because we’re afraid it will happen to someone we love and because we are, for the most part, not very knowledgeable about the subject until it affects us. I have a few people in my life that have been directly impacted by this issue and my heart still breaks for the pain that they experience. While I learned a bit about it, enough to have an intelligent conversation, I was still unaware of the actual statistics on this issue or the information that is available to help us all become more aware. This week is National Suicide Prevention Week and, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition to that, for every suicide that is carried out, there are about 25 more attempts. Life is hard for all of us and, for some, it’s harder. We’ve made some strides in making this topic more mainstream, but we still have work to do. Depression, mental illness, and suicide are not taboo topics; they are a necessary conversation. This is no different than us researching cancer or heart attacks. We all know the warning signs of those and take action to prevent or heal ourselves and those close to us. We should be doing the same work on the topics of mental illness and/or suicide.
PLEASE take a moment and visit their website. Take just a few minutes out of your day to review the information that they have available there. I had wrongly assumed that this was a younger person’s issue, that they were most at risk because of the decisions, life problems, and emotions that they experience. I was so wrong! According to the statics quoted (from 2014), people aged 85+ comprised the highest suicide rate (19.3%), but almost equal (at 19.2%) were those aged 45-64 years old. In particular, men in this age group are at highest risk. Men, in general, die by suicide far more often than women. White men, in particular, accounted for 7 out of 10 suicides. Did you also know that firearms account for just about half of all suicides?
There are so many different factors that can contribute to a suicide attempt. I’m not even going to try to explain the many different causes and effects of mental health conditions, medications, trauma, and illnesses or disabilities that lead many people to consider suicide. There are so many individual factors that can contribute, as well. Their page titled About Suicide covers the most common warning signs and risk factors, statistics, and treatment information. Did you know that 90% of people that die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time (of which there are too many to list here)? There are treatments that can help. Take a moment to learn about the warning signs and risk factors so that you can become aware of them and can take action for yourself or for your loved ones when necessary.
In our constantly changing world, we are all so busy that it’s all we can do to get by ourselves, take care of our own business, and get through the days, right? Please understand that this issue, if it hasn’t yet, can affect you, your family member, your close friend or someone you work with at any time. It’s up to each of us to at least take the time to become informed about the issue, make yourself available, and seek help when necessary for either yourself or someone else. There is information contained here on how to find support to manage each one of these situations. There is also support information on managing after a loss with various topics ranging from the emotional impact to finances, from family members to school and work environments.
Please see here for a video of the day in support of this week of awareness:
Please copy this contact information, put it in your phone, and USE IT when you believe that you or someone you know is in need.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
NOTE: There are so many elements to this topic that I’m unable to cover everything in one article. There are risk factors, actions to take, awareness, the grief process, etc. I look forward to learning more about these and sharing that information with you. In the meantime, please learn what you can, practice awareness, and have compassion for those affected. Become involved!