National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 3,000 people commit suicide each day (1). In a 2013 study, the CDC found that 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of deaths for Americans. They also found that in the same year someone committed suicide in the U. S. every 12.8 minutes. Only cancer and heart disease account for more years of life lost than suicide (2).

The subject of suicide is a taboo and an uncomfortable one. Even with celebrity deaths of Robin Williams and others, it is easy to move to the back of one’s mind. Unless you have been or know someone who has been directly affected, the pain, guilt and sadness can continue for a long time.

Here are some facts to consider based on CDC research (all figures 2013-most recent data)

  • The highest rate of suicide was among people 45 to 64 years of age. Of those who died by suicide, 77.9% were male and 22.1% were female (2).                                         
  • Suicide is the 2nd most common cause of death for youth ages 10-24.
  • LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times as likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers (3).                                       
  • 22 Veterans take their own lives a day. That is one every 65 minutes (4).
  • 22-46% of homeless adults and youth have attempted suicide (5).

Risk Factors

  • Depression
  • Bi-polar (manic-depressive) disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Serious illness or chronic health condition and/or pain
  • Family history of suicide
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Childhood abuse

Suicide Warning Signs

  • If they talk about killing themselves
  • Saying they have no reason to live
  • If they talk about being a burden to other
  • If they feel trapped
  • Unbearable pain
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage

*According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

It is important to know that there is no fool proof list or combination of factors or warning signs that will lead us to the answer.  It can be any combination of these and other factors or risks that raises a red flag that someone may need help.  It is critical that we are active listeners and pick up on the cues above or differences in behavior of those that we interact with including patients, clients, friends, family members and/or those that we just encounter in our daily lives.  Although uncomfortable, the more we can have a dialogue about these factors and others in addition to raising awareness and funding for studies to continue our understanding of suicide, the more impact we can have and save lives.

HealthNet’s Behavioral Health specialists are trained and licensed professionals to help you with issues and challenges throughout life. To make an appointment with a Behavioral Health Therapist, contact a HealthNet location near you. You can also make an appointment by calling 317-957-2200 x 6009.

For online resources about Suicide Prevention, click here: Suicide Prevention Resources


Post by Matt Holland

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