“We all must take action or we will continue to lose the ones we love so much”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—an opportunity to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It’s important to stamp out feelings of shame that can prevent individuals from seeking help.
In September, we recognize the following observances:
September: Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month
September 10: World Suicide Prevention Day
September 10-16: National Suicide Prevention Week
The statistics are extremely troubling, yet with effective care, suicidal thoughts are treatable, and suicide is preventable.
44,000 suicides occurred in the U.S. in 2015, which translates to 121 suicides per day (American Association of Suicidology)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the third leading cause of death for people aged 10–14, and the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 15–24 (The National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness as revealed by psychological autopsy. 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Throughout my professional career, whether this was working for Xerox, Pharmaceutical Sales or business development in the behavioral health arena, I could never understand why so many people I know have had thoughts of suicide. From my father to my closest friends. I feel it is less rare than most think!
Going through a divorce this year, I finally hit an all time low. I could not get out of bed for a handful of days. I had several close friends trying to call me but I would just text back that I was too busy. The reality is that when you are majorly depressed, one has thoughts of despair, shame, and yes I had thoughts of leaving this world.
There were times I could not move and the phone seemed to feel like it was 500lbs. I kept thinking of how it would be if I wasn’t here or around because I was not the same person I used to be. I was majorly depressed and the last thing I wanted to be was negative for anyone.
Thank God I had a close friend named Joe C. who was relentless and texted and called at least 4-5 times. I finally picked up the phone. It’s weird how the brain convinces you that you’re this terrible thing, when in reality I am loved by so many. Thank you Joe for helping me stand up again and thank you to my dearest daughter that I will live for every day.
We all have to acknowledge that this is an epidemic and like my friend Joe, please do not give up if you think a loved one, a co-worker, or a family member is struggling. We all must take action or we will continue to lose the ones we love so much.
NEVER GIVE UP
San Francisco, CA, USA
Why Are The Numbers Increasing?
In order to challenge this epidemic, we need to know why these numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. According to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Psychological Association (APA), there are several factors that are contributing to this alarming issue.
Alcohol and drug addiction
Unresolved mental health issues
Unresolved Mental Health and Stigma
In almost every peer reviewed medical journal from the Jama Report to the CDC, the WHY comes down to unresolved mental distress or health. The United States Surgeon General has stated that opiates has become an epidemic and, with this statement alone, we can clearly see the correlation between drug use, mental health and suicide. Yet how do we take this on with education and awareness?
What Can We All Do to Help
Suicide is not a single faceted issue, which means everyone––from the federal government to the healthcare system to the individual family unit––is beginning to realize they all have a role in fixing the issue.
Health Care Providers:
Every health care provider will need to improve their knowledge and education on suicide signs and symptoms.
Our healthcare system should ramp up on affordable access to care regarding mental health.
Health care providers should have on going mandate continuing education on this topic to increase their own education and awareness.
Promote health and wellbeing for your employees.
Have a plan in place to respond if one is showing signs and symptoms of suicide.
Encourage your employees to seek help and assure them they are in a safe environment.
Make sure to have the resources and a list of the following which are major attributes to suicide: referral list of mental health providers, substance abuse providers, and legal and financial advisors.
Ask someone if you are worried for them if they want to or are thinking of attempting suicide.
Be there with them and make sure they are safe.
Connect them with ongoing support with a professional healthcare provider.
Follow up and see how they are doing.
Be persistent and don’t give up
The five action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal are supported by evidence in the field of suicide prevention.