The Suicide rate is up again since 1986 in the United States.
It could be scary to talk about suicide but educating yourself about suicide could help you understand it better and help someone in your life who you’re concerned about.
These are some facts to know:
- Females attempt suicide more than males. At one point males died of suicide more than females, but those numbers are changing recently. It is not known why females attempt suicide more than males, but it could be due to the added pressures females have.
- In teenagers, suicide could be “contagious ” they have found that in schools, if a student has died from suicide, the likelihood that another student will commit suicide increases.
- The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indian and Alaska Natives.
- In the U.S., suicide is the highest during the Spring. We don’t know why but my opinion is that it’s due to the changes happening in season. Spring is a popular time for weddings, graduations, and a sense of change in the air with the weather getting warmer. If someone is not happy with themselves, noticing the changes around them, but not for them, could trigger more depression.
- By the time you’re done reading this post, somewhere in the world someone just committed suicide.
You can read other facts here.
Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide, which include:
- They talk about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online for ideas on how to kill themselves.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Behaving recklessly such as buying a gun all of a sudden.
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
I like to find action steps that you could take to give you hope because there is a lot you can do to help.
- 90% of people who commit suicide had symptoms of depression or some other type of mental health disorder. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide. If you know someone who is struggling with depression and you feel helpless, urge them to get professional help. You can’t make them get help but you could give them phone numbers to therapists or offer to take them somewhere to get help.
- People that are suicidal don’t want to necessarily die but want to stop hurting. Checking up on a friend helps them feel cared for. If it’s a close friend, spend time with them, talk to them and help them feel that their pain is not going to last forever.
- Almost everyone who commits suicide had given some kind of clue or warning. Don’t ignore any “jokes” about not being around or wanting life to be over. It’s always better to over react and be safe than sorry.
- Talk about suicide. People think that if you talk about suicide you’re going to push the person to doing it. That is not true. Talking about suicide could be very powerful. If a person you know is suicidal, ask them, “what is stopping you?” What they answer are clues to their strengths. Use that to help them shift their thinking.
- A big warning sign of someone who is suicidal is that they visit or call you to say goodbye. Giving away possessions that are meaningful to them also is a major warning sign. If you notice someone you know do these things, express your concern to them. Share with them that you care. Explain that if they die, they’ll be dead. They won’t be around anymore. And although life goes on for everyone else, those closest to them are the ones that are left to deal with the pain. Therefore by killing themselves, they’ll be hurting those closest to them. I’ve found that talking to them this bluntly helps them see suicide differently. They’ve been so consumed with their pain that they forget that they’ll be causing that same pain onto those that love and care about them.
- Try keeping weapons, medicines and other lethal things out of reach. The best thing to do is remove them from the home.
- Call for help. You could call an ambulance and tell them that you’re concerned that your friend/family is suicidal. They could be kept at the hospital for up to 72 hours or longer if doctors feel that they are a harm to themselves or others. If they go voluntarily to the hospital, they could leave sooner than you want but only after a doctor gives them an evaluation and clears them.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Sometimes a person’s pain is so great that they have lost hope and feel that nothing and no one could help them. Understand that you could only do your part. It is their decision to take their life.
About the author.
Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.