By: Madeleine Clow
Disclaimer: This article may be triggering and handles sensitive issues regarding mental health
The United States faces a stigmatized epidemic regarding mental health today. Every 12 minutes someone attempts suicide in our country. Every day, an average of 123 people die by suicide in the United States. For every suicide, an average of 25 people attempt suicide and another 12 people visit the hospital regarding self-harm injuries. Each year, around 505,500 people visit the hospital regarding self-harm injuries. Every single day we are losing our loved ones, friends, family, peers, classmates, coworkers, the stranger that you greeted last week at the grocery store, to an entirely preventable cause.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year we lose around 45,000 Americans to suicide. In the past 20 years, 49 out of the 50 states showed an increase is suicide rates. Suicide rates have increased in Idaho by more than 40 percent in the last 20 years. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in Idaho. Idaho has the 8th highest rate of suicide out of all 50 states. Idahoans are 57 percent more likely to die by suicide compared to the rest of the United States. What can we do to protect ourselves and those around us from death by suicide? How can we save lives from this preventable choice that is their last resort?
We must support ourselves and others through being aware and recognizing when one’s mental health is vulnerable and subjected to being at risk of oneself. In half of the United States suicide rates increased by 30 percent in the past 20 years. This recent study that has projected these suicide statistics originally reported in 1999, an average of 30,000 deaths by suicide each year. That means, in the past two decades, suicide rates
have jumped by 15,000 deaths each year.
Who is dying from suicide? 90 percent of people who die by suicide suffered from a mental health condition, undiagnosed as well as diagnosed. The leading demographic of Americans falling victim to suicide are majorly middle-aged white men. Although all ethnic and racial groups are affected by suicide; American Indians have the second highest rate of suicide, followed by Hispanic Americans. About 20 percent of Americans who die by suicide are
between the ages of 45 and 55, according to data presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. About 10 percent of Americans who die by suicide are between the ages of 14 and 18. In adolescents, girls are twice as likely as boys to attempt to die by suicide. Along with Hispanic adolescents, specifically girls, being twice as likely as their white counterparts to attempt to die by suicide.
The leading cause of death by suicide is by use of firearms. 51 percent of suicides are carried out by a gun; owned by a family member, friend, or themselves. That is
almost 23,000 lives ended by pulling the trigger on themselves. Almost 26 percent of suicides were caused by suffocation. Death by suffocation includes, hanging, drowning, etc. The third leading cause of death by suicide is poisoning, with almost 15 percent. Poisoning can include the overdose of drugs, with illegal substances, over-the-counter medications, or prescribed medications.
Why are suicide rates increasing so rapidly in the United States? There are many reasons for someone to decide to end their own life. Many attribute suicide to mental health illnesses such as depression. However, relationship and financial troubles can also be reasons leading to a victim dying by suicide. Especially within rural communities, financial ruts have pushed small communities into a corner. People in rural communities are often faced with the drug and opioid epidemic of America, which leads to spiraling drug addiction. Rural communities are also often faced with isolation and the improper medical support and knowledge to effectively aid those in their communities suffering from suicidal thoughts and actions, let alone mental health illnesses and issues. What can we do to support the people we know who suffer from suicidal thoughts and tendencies?
Luckily, we are not hopeless in helping our loved ones and those around us who suffer from suicidal thought and tendencies. We can gather and learn tools that we can practice to properly aid any individual who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Always remember, 9 out of 10 people who attempt suicide NEVER attempt suicide again. You are saving someone’s life.
Any one of these signs does not necessarily mean the person is considering suicide, but several of these symptoms may signal a need for help:
- Verbal suicide threats such as, “You’d be better off without me.” or “Maybe I won’t be around”
- Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
- Previous suicide attempts
- Daring or risk-taking behavior
- Personality changes
- Giving away prized possessions
- Lack of interest in future plans
Remember: Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide, or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves.
If You Think Someone Is Considering Suicide:
- Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble
- Talk with the person about your concerns. Communication needs to include LISTENING
- Ask direct questions without being judgmental. Determine if the person has a specific plan to carry out the suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk
- Get professional help, even if the person resists
- Do not leave the person alone
- Do not swear to secrecy
- Do not act shocked or judgmental
- Do not counsel the person yourself
Helping Someone Who is Considering Suicide:
- Tell them to see their primary physician
- Help them consider cognitive therapy
- Their doctor may prescribe them anti-depressants
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide:
This will connect you with a crisis center in your area: