September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and USPM wants to share information and resources in an effort to bring awareness to this difficult topic.
Considered one of the biggest public health problems nationwide, suicides have been steadily increasing in nearly every state according to the latest Vital Signs reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2016, approximately 45,000 people ages 10 or older died by suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death, and one of just three leading causes of death on the rise1. Although suicide affects people of all ages, the majority of cases are occurring in people over 60 years of age.
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors can be damaging and dangerous and should be considered a psychiatric emergency. Seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Know the Warning Signs
- Threats or comments about hurting themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with what seem like harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more obvious and dangerous
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Impulsive or reckless behavior2
If you notice any person exhibiting these behaviors, seek care immediately:
- Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Mood swings from despair to calm
- Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication2
If you are unsure, contact a licensed mental health professional to help assess the risk.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Research has found that more than half of people (54%) who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. There were other factors that may have put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance abuse – drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts
- Intoxication – more than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be under the influence
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Gender – men are four times more likely to die by suicide even though more women than men attempt suicide
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- Age – people under age 24 or over age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide
- A recent tragedy or loss
- Agitation and sleep deprivation2
- If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately
- If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
- If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line3
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides us with a time to collectively spark conversations for awareness about this topic, but suicide prevention is important to address year-round. Everyone can help prevent suicide – because all it takes is just one conversation to change a life. #SuicidePrevention #StigmaFree #moregoodyears