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Many people have felt down and sad from time to time, however, for some this feeling lasts more than a moment. The week of September 4 to the 10 is National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adults and children. However, it is not easy to spot the signs.
In 2020, almost 46,000 individuals in the United States took their own lives, which is practically one death every 11 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are close to 800,000 people worldwide who committed suicide on a yearly basis. In 2020, 1.2 million people attempted to take their own lives.
Throughout the month of September, National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI) will highlight the campaign “Together for Mental Health.” They, like many other mental health experts and advocates, wish to spread awareness of this stigmatized, and often taboo, topic — Especially during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Raising awareness and dropping the stigma may allow many people to feel okay about reaching out for help during their time of great need. It is important for everyone to know that it is okay to talk about suicide. It doesn’t mean they are showing weakness if they discuss their issues, they are exhibiting strength.
Statistics show that 79% of deaths by suicide are male. However, even though women are more likely to attempt to take their lives, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
Among individuals aged 10 to 14 suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States. It is the third leading cause among those aged 15 to 24. Overall suicide is the twelfth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Data shows that 46% of those who take their own lives had a diagnosed mental health condition. However, research suggests that 90% may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition.
Roughly, 4.9% of all adult Americans have had serious thoughts about taking their lives. Around 11.3 % of young adults aged between 18 to 25 have considered committing suicide. Statistics show that 18.8% of high school students have had suicidal thoughts with 45% of LGBTQ youth being troubled with these thoughts, according to NAMI’s website.
Their information also shows that the highest rates of suicide in the U.S. are among veterans, rural dwellers, and American Indian/Alaska Natives followed by non-Hispanic whites. Gay, bisexual, and lesbian youth are almost four times more likely to attempt to kill themselves than heterosexuals.
Transgender adults are approximately nine times more probable to try to take their lives than the general population. NAMI’s statistics also show that suicide is the leading cause of death for individuals held in local jails.
Researchers have been trying to figure out a way to better predict who may be at risk to attempt suicide, and whether or when vulnerable individuals will do it, stated Justin Baker, clinical director of The Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative for Veterans at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“That is extremely, extremely difficult,” he added. “You can look back in time, when someone’s made an attempt or has died, and go, ‘Oh, look at all these things that were going on in their life.’ The difficulty is that a lot of people handle or experience those types of stressors as well but never go on to (attempt suicide).”
People can decide to attempt suicide and then do it in as little as five to fifteen minutes afterward. Most of the time people feel like they cannot “fix the situation, or they can’t think their way through the situation, so suicide becomes a viable option as a way to manage the pain that they’re in. So they may take action on it in that really short, brief window,” Baker said.
Some of the common warning signs that a person may be contemplating ending their life are:
- Being moody or sad: If a person has long-lasting mood swings and sadness they could be suffering from depression, which is a major risk factor for suicide.
- Withdrawing from others: This person loses interest or pleasure in the things they use to enjoy. Instead, they choose to be alone and avoid social activities or friends.
- Changes in appearance, personality, and sleep pattern: The individual’s behavior or attitude changes. For example, the way they speak or they start moving with unusual speed or slowness. These people will suddenly not care about how they look. In addition, they have been sleeping more or much less than they typically did.
- Sudden calmness: The person suddenly becomes calm after a period of depression or moodiness.
- Experiencing recent trauma or life crisis: Examples of crises include the death of a loved one or pet, diagnosis of a major illness, divorce or break-up of a relationship, loss of a job, or serious financial problems.
- Being in a state of deep despair: The person talks about feeling trapped or being in severe emotional pain, having no reason to live, or feeling hopeless.
- Threatening suicide or talking about wanting to die: Not everyone who is contemplating suicide will make it known, and not everyone who threatens to kill themselves will act on it. However, every suicidal threat should be taken seriously.
If anyone suspects someone they know may be suicidal, reach out to them. Start up a conversation and ask them how they are feeling or if they have thoughts of hurting themselves. A wise person once said that a simple smile can chase the clouds away. This is true for all occasions, a simple hi, smile, nod, or acknowledgment of someone’s existence may change their train of thought.
If anyone is feeling this way please reach out by calling or texting 988. Anyone feeling uncomfortable talking on the phone can chat with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988lifeline.org. They can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Cleveland Clinic: Recognizing Suicidal Behavior
NAMI: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
NSPW: National Suicide Prevention Week
is September 4–10
CNN: This National Suicide Prevention Week, learn the signs someone’s at risk for suicide
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