Each year, September brings a slight chill to Pennsylvania, generating anticipation for changing leaves, crisp air, bulky sweaters, and hot apple cider. It also brings a deeper sense of purpose and passion to those acknowledging September as National Suicide Prevention Month. All month, individuals around the world work together to spread suicide prevention awareness.
Suicide is a 10th leading cause of death in the Unite States, and it is the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 15-24. Although suicide is preventable, it is a serious public health issue. In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide, and there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts.
Talking about suicide can be scary and uncomfortable, but it is also a critical to engage in conversations surrounding suicide prevention awareness in order to save lives. We can prevent suicide by openly discussing mental health and understanding warning signs and risk factors. Knowledge is power. Check out these myths and facts to learn more about suicide
Taking to someone about suicide will make them more suicidal.
MYTH. Research shows that people who are experiencing suicidal ideation feel a sense of relief when someone asks them about it in a caring way. Encouraging others to openly share their thoughts and feelings can actually help them to feel better.
This being said, it is important to recognize that those who talk about suicide are still at risk of experiencing a suicide attempt. It is important to ask if the person has a plan with intent to act and encourage them to seek appropriate counseling assistance.
Suicide rates are highest among adolescents.
MYTH. Elderly males experience the highest suicide rates in the United States. Researchers theorize that this relates to the high frequency of undiagnosed or untreated depression, as depressive symptoms are common toward end of life. Older individuals are more likely to lose their spouse or develop chronic illnesses, which can be incredibly stressful and traumatic. Additionally, elderly adults often experience loneliness due to infrequent socialization, which can exacerbate depressive symptoms. Although suicide rates have actually decreased among this population, it still remains the age group that experiences the highest rate of completed suicide.
Knowing warning signs can help to prevent suicide.
TRUE. Individual, relationship, and environmental factors are some elements that may influence the risk of suicide. Individuals who have suffered through traumatic experiences, such as abuse or exposure to violence, are more at risk of suicide.
Warning signs may include:
- isolation from others
- changes in sleep patterns
- low mood
- low energy
- talking about wanting to die
- increased substance use
- feeling trapped or like a burden
- feeling hopeless and/or helpless
- giving away prized possessions
- attempting to access lethal means
Males experience higher rates of suicide attempts.
MYTH. Although males complete suicide at a higher rate than women, women actually experience high rates of suicide attempts.
You may be wondering: If women have more suicide attempts, how can men have higher completed suicide rates? Men often choose more lethal, immediate methods of attempting suicide, such as using firearms, whereas women tend to choose methods, such as poisoning or suffocation, that are more likely to respond to medical intervention.
Once someone attempts suicide, they are less likely to attempt again.
MYTH. An individual who attempts suicide is actually more at risk of experiencing a future attempt. Once someone experiences a suicide attempts, it is critical for them to receive immediate mental health support to lower the risk of future attempts and the risk possible completion. Suicidal ideation can be a fatal symptom and should always be taken seriously.
Most suicide victims suffer with depression.
TRUE. Depression is the most common mental health condition. Although most people with depression do not die by suicide, experiencing depression does put someone at greater risk of experiencing suicidal ideation. An estimated 60% of individuals who complete suicide suffer with mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.). Many of them experience co-occurring disorders, such as substance use disorders.
Do you have any questions about suicide? Write in and let me know. Let’s all strive to learn how to help ourselves and how to help each other.