Suicide prevention for the modern day

There’s a horrifying killer that we don’t talk nearly enough about: suicide. Over the past decade, suicide rates have risen and approximately 105 Americans die by suicide every day. Suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. So why aren’t more people seeking help?

I remember walking in to my friend, Robert’s, home one day. The house was as dark and disheveled and dirty as he was; something was terribly wrong.

He was irrational- worrying about turning the lights on in his own home -and in real trouble. I was searching through his bedroom drawers when I found the note:

It’s nobody’s fault but mine…

The note went on to say how and where he wanted to be buried.

He adamantly refused help, so I placed a call to a local help line. They promptly dispatched a social worker and two police officers, who forced him, kicking and screaming, into a car to go to the hospital.

At the hospital, I learned that one of the things they ask during an evaluation to assess suicide risk was whether or not someone has a plan. He did.

Robert broke that day; he’d been battling a long depression throughout his life and never got the required help. I really can’t say what his trigger was, but today, it is because he finally received some long overdue help that he is alive and planning to stay that way for as long as he can. Some are not as lucky.

Understanding suicide

Suicide is a seemingly incomprehensible act; the subject, alone, makes many of us wince. Yet, there are an estimated 1 million suicide attempts each year.

Its important to realize that suicide is someone’s way of seeking a solution. This person hopes to save himself or herself from the overwhelming emotional toll that mental illness gives them. Someone hoping to commit suicide can often feel drowned by tremendous amounts of guilt, shame, anger, or sadness.

Mental illness can often be accompanied by periods of euphoria or joy, which is why many friends and family members can find it hard to diagnose someone.  The important part is to remember that if someone is more often than not feeling hopeless or helpless then there may be a chance that they are in need of some kind of help.

An increasing suicide rate, for some

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) notes in data taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that males are at a 4x higher risk for suicide than females. Despite that knowledge, females are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, which means that men may not be seeking help for their depression. In fact, only half of all Americans experiencing depression receive treatment.

Even sadder, the CDC states that 90% of people who’ve died by suicide had a potentially treatable mental disorder, such as depression—a disorder that had gone unrecognized and untreated.

Suicide’s warning signs

Someone who wants to kill themselves, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), exhibit one or more warning signs.

Someone at risk for suicide may talk about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation

Other behaviors to watch for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting recklessly or aggressively
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
Seeking help

If you or someone you know feels unhappy, depressed or in need of emotional help, do not hesitate to seek help; immediately reach out to a mental health professional. The NAMI site also offers a list of organizations that can provide information or a referral. Suicide is never a solution (and, Robert would agree).

In case of an emergency, contact the following places for help:

  • The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • A psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
  • A hospital emergency room
  • An urgent care center
  • 911



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