Suicide Prevention Week

It's National Suicide Prevention week. Although, suicide prevention should not be limited to one week, it is a great time to become educated on this very real public health crisis. This post may not be the most uplifting, to be honest the majority of the content is down right depressing. However, knowledge truly is power and this information may save lives. Remember this isn't light stuff at all, so take a deep breadth and grab a box of tissues. 

According to the CDC suicide was the tenth leading cause of death amongst all ages groups claiming over 47,000 lives in 2017. Even more alarming suicide was the second leading cause of death in three age groups; 10-14, 15-24, and 25-34. Between 2001 and 2017 the US suicide rate increased by 31% with males almost four times more likely to commit suicide than females. Anytime I report a fact or figure I want to make it easy for anyone reading this to access where I got this  information from (which includes the charts below), but please note this website does discuss suicide methods which made me sick to my stomach, please take caution when reading this National Institute of Health


Suicide Rates 2001 to 2017Suicide Rates By GenderSuicide Rates by Race

Listed below are the risk factors and protective factors of suicide. I have taken this information directly from the CDC, once again this information is alarming and please proceed with caution. 

Risk Factors

  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention lists the Warning Signs of Suicide as:

If a person talks about:

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

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

Needless to say the pandemic along with the many other stressors of 2020 have been hard on America's mental health. This graphic below taken from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from a survey conducted between June 24 and June 30, 2020.

According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention below are some emergency and crisis services if you or a loved one is in need of help. 

Incase of emergency call 911. The United States is in the process of creating a mental health crisis line 988 as well. 

The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network is 1 (800) 273-TALK or 1 (800) 273-8255.

There is also a crisis talk line to test with a trained counselor for free, text TALK to 741-741.

If you are a Veteran you can send a text to the Veteran's Crisis Line 838255.

If you need in-person help visit your:

  • Primary care provider
  • Local psychiatric hospital
  • Local walk-in clinic
  • Local emergency department
  • Local urgent care center

Know the signs, knowledge is power and this information can save yourself or a loved one. Remember pain is temporary, you can get through anything, and you are not alone.