Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Approximately every 11 minutes, someone dies by suicide. Suicide is a major crisis in America as it is one of the leading causes of death among our people. It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34 and the third leading cause among people ages 15-24. Suicide is among the top nine causes of death for people ages 10-64, and, unfortunately, things have only gotten worse as we have progressed as a society. Today we want to take some time to commemorate September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. We show respect to suicide survivors and honor the memories and lives of those who have gone on. We also want to take a moment of your time just to share some important facts regarding suicide and to encourage those to seek help if they are in the middle of a crisis.
Facts About Suicide
Suicide, by definition, is death caused by self-infliction with the intent to die. As mentioned, it is a leading cause of death among many Americans. From 2000 to 2018, there was a 30% increase in suicides. The number of suicide deaths decreased in 2019 and 2020. Liver disease and Covid-19 succeeded suicide as leading causes of death in 2020, but the overall number of suicide deaths in 2020 (45,979) decreased compared to the total deaths in 2019 (47,511).
While the number of people who have died due to suicide is heartbreaking, the number of suicide attempts and ideation is just as detrimental. Attempted suicide is when a person causes harm to themselves intending to end their life, but, fortunately, fails. Suicidal ideation is when a person thinks, seriously considers, or plans suicide. In 2020, 12.2 million people seriously considered suicide, 3.2 million made a suicide plan, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.
Who Is At Risk?
Did you know that 46% of people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition? Mental health is essential to the well-being of all, and it must be taken seriously. Although it is a significant factor in suicides, there are others. Here is a list of several other factors that may put a person at risk of suicide:
This list is courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Health.
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use: Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication: Analysis from the CDC indicates around 1 in 5 people who die by suicide had alcohol in their system at the time of death.
- Access to firearms
- A severe or chronic medical illness
- Gender: Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are 4x more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss
Recognizing the Signs of Someone Who May Be Struggling
Suicide is a national crisis but can be prevented if we work together. We can first start by educating ourselves. Here are major and subtle red flags that can indicate someone is suicidal. Note: major red flags are typically obvious or more known. Subtle red flags may not be as apparent or known. Every red flag listed does not have to be present for someone to be at risk of suicide, but even one behavioral change listed below can indicate someone needs help.
This list is courtesy of the Healthcare Department of the University of Utah.
Major Red Flags
- Withdrawing socially
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Sudden decrease in school performance and behavior issues
- Drop in work performance
- Changes in hygiene and appearance
- Increased irritability
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or that one is a burden to others
- Talk of death or dying or not wanting to be around anymore
- Researching possible methods for suicide
Subtle Red Flags
- Lack of concern for safety
- Unsafe driving
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting more impulsively
How We Can Help Those Struggling
If someone is in need of help before or during a crisis, here are a few ways you can help support them:
- Lead with love and compassion. When we are in these positions, sometimes we lead with fear and anxiety, which can translate as anger and disappointment to the one who is hurting. Let us be calm and lead with love and compassion so that the one who is hurting knows they are loved.
- Calmly ask simple and direct questions
- Talk openly and honestly
- Remove guns, knives, pills, and other means that can be used to harm oneself
- Express support and concern
- Be loving and patient
- Support by researching help from trained professionals, pastors, ministries, and/or organizations
Suicide is detrimental, but it is not the answer. There is hope, and you are loved. If you are in a crisis, please seek help.