For many centuries, suicides were treated like criminals by the society. That is part of the terrible legacy that has come down into society's method of handling suicide recovery. Now we have to fight off the demons that have been hanging around suicide for centuries - Judy Collins
The deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this week are a somber reminder of the growing problem of suicide across the United States. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate has increased in almost every state in the nation — and by more than 30 percent in 25 states — in the past two decades.
More than half of the people who died by suicide had no known mental health problems. The CDC noted that “relationship, substance use, health, and job or financial problems are among the other circumstances contributing to suicide.”
It’s important to note: Suicide is a rare event. Even though it is on the rise in this country, it’s just 16 out of every 100,000 people who die from it each year. This is important to stress. Humans are very sensitive to information about what’s normal. Sometimes when we hear a trend is “on the rise,” our brains translate that to “everyone is doing it.” Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death; but it’s still rare, and it ought to be rarer.
But suicide is absolutely preventable, and we’re learning more about the best ways to intervene. There are clear things we can do to reduce the risk that our friends and family take their own lives. Here’s what to look out for, and how to help.
How to spot a friend or family member at risk of suicide
Sussing out suicide risk can be difficult, even for the most practiced mental health clinicians. It’s not always linked to obvious declines in mental health or even sadness.
“As humans we try to look for pretty simple explanations, and neat narratives and stories, and it turns out that suicide is just incredibly complicated,” Joseph Franklin, a psychologist who studies suicide risk factors at Florida State University, told us in an interview last year. “That doesn’t mean we can’t make sense of it.”
The CDC has a list of the most common individual risk factors associated with suicide. They include:
A family history of suicide and/or childhood maltreatment
Previous suicide attempts
A history of mental health disorders, including depression
Recent losses and personal challenges, including deaths and financial troubles
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, people at risk of suicide will often talk about killing themselves, or feeling hopeless or trapped and a burden to others. They may also turn to drugs and alcohol more often, and withdraw from social activities.
One of the theories of how people can become comfortable with the idea of suicide is called acquired capacity. That is, most of us, by default, recoil at the notion of self-harm. But slowly, some people can grow more comfortable with the idea. And you can look out for friends and family going down this path.
Some of the reasons people become comfortable with the idea of self-harm have to do with personality. Some people have higher pain thresholds or are less squeamish about violence or blood. Some of these risk factors are acquired, meaning experiences can push people to get more used to the idea of self-harm. These experiences include cutting and other self-injury. People can become habituated to not fear the tools of death. And to be clear: Any form of self-harm is a serious matter.
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to offer help
If you think a friend of family member may be at risk of suicide, you should reach out. And when you do, there are many resources you can point them to. Here are a few:
In the US:
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, at any time, about any type of crisis
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Outside the US:
The International Association for Suicide Prevention...
You can also find a trained mental health clinician to help someone before a crisis begins. Psychology Today has a wonderful tool to find a counselor nearby. Just put in your zip code and you can sort therapists by insurances accepted and specialty. And Wirecutter has some great recommendations to find a web-based counseling service, if that route makes more sense for your situation.
Anecdotally, we know that just being a good listener to a friend in need can be reassuring. As the New York Times reported, simply showing up to keep someone company if they’re alone, asking questions, and offering to make an appointment with a health professional can have an outsize impact. That’s what made the difference for our colleague Zack Beauchamp, who struggled with his own suicidal depression.
As a society, we need better suicide prevention policies — and we could start with gun control
We can’t always control the individual factors that put people at risk of suicide, but we can work to ensure that our environments are less conducive to suicide. And in America, access to guns remains a chief risk factor for suicide that we could address with stricter regulations.
According to the new CDC data, 48 percent of deaths by suicide involved firearms — another reminder that while the homicides in America’s gun crisis get a lot of public attention, suicides by gun are far more common.
When there are fewer weapons around to inflict damage, there are fewer suicides. Countries that have enacted tougher gun regulations have also seen their suicide rates decline. But change can start in your own home. We know that having a gun at home can increase the risk of death by suicide for all family members.
Suicide, and its recent increase in the United States, is a frustrating, stubborn tragedy. But remember: We’re not powerless. We can help.
Source: Julia Belluz, How to help someone who might be at risk of suicide, Vox, June 8, 2018.
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Asking for help can be hard. That’s why we offer a safe place to talk, chat or text - any time, in your own way. If you are thinking about suicide, you don’t have to face it alone. Reach out today.
116 123 (UK & Ireland)
Whatever you're going through, call us free any time, from any phone on 116 123.
We're here round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it's best to call us on the phone. This number is FREE to call. You don't have to be suicidal to call us.
Suicide rates have risen in almost every state in the US in the past two decades.
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Reaching out for help is really hard when life is tough...we understand... no matter what you’re going through, suicide is never the answer. Getting help and support is the answer.
Help Hotlines for Kids, Teens & Women... Suicide, Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse, LGBT, Runaways, Bullying & More.
We work worldwide to provide emotional support, and reduce suicide. We listen to people who are in distress. We don't judge them or tell them what to do - we listen.
IMALIVE is a service of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Our focus is suicide intervention, prevention, awareness and education. We provide help and hope through online crisis chat, college campus and high school events and other educational programs.
Pain isn't always obvious, but most suicidal people show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. If you see even one warning sign, step in or speak up. Take the time to learn what to do now, so you're ready to be there for a friend or loved one when it matters most.
The intention of Live Through This is to show that everyone is susceptible to depression and suicidal thoughts by sharing portraits and stories of real attempt survivors—people who look just like you. These feelings could affect your mom, your partner, or your brother, and the fear of talking about it can be a killer.
We exist to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
POS is an international Internet community and e-mail support group for bereaved mothers and fathers whose sons or daughters took their own lives. Our mission is to offer understanding, support, information, connections and hope.
Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
To prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma and serve as a resource to those touched by suicide.
A site for suicidal individuals and their loved ones, survivors, mental health professionals, & the merely curious.
Stop A Suicide Today! can teach you how to recognize the warning signs of suicide in family, friends, co-workers, and patients, and how to respond as you would do with any medical emergency.
The Life and death feelings and decisions of depressed and suicidal teens.
To create and deliver innovative approaches that educate, inform and inspire people to cultivate good mental health and reduce stigma leading to less death by suicide
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If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes. I do not want to talk you out of your bad feelings. I am not a therapist or other mental health professional - only someone who knows what it is like to be in pain.
A Matter of Life and Death...When you need it, this website will be here to take you by the hand, to understand how you feel, to comfort your suffering, hold on to your life, support you through crisis, and pull you through treatment.
Prevention, Awareness, and Support...Over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. And the most common mental illness is depression. Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.
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Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
Teen Suicide Prevention...Yellow Ribbon is a community-based program using a universal public health approach. This program empowers and educates professionals, adults and youth.
Suicide Prevention is Everyone's Business...Many people at some time in their lives think about completing suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control.
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Fast stats for suicide and self-inflicted injury for the U.S.
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We teach prevention because prevention is the only solution to suicide.
Crisis Services Canada (CSC) is a collaboration of distress and crisis centres from across Canada, offering Canada’s first nationally available, regionally delivered suicide prevention service.
Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) is now available 24/7, via toll-free phone, text or chat to anyone thinking about or affected by suicide.
The Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) provides advocacy, program oversight, and policy for Department of Defense suicide prevention, intervention and postvention efforts to reduce suicidal behaviors in Service members, civilians and their families.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Somewhere in Australia there is a new call to Lifeline every minute. People call Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis line 13 11 14.
Welcome to Lost All Hope - one of the most comprehensive suicide resources on the web.
You may be reading this looking for information on methods to commit suicide. They are here. Maybe you'd like to know statistical information about suicide - you're in the right place. Perhaps you are feeling really low; part of you wants to end it, and part of you just wants to be happy. You'll find information and links that might help you.
Suicide Prevention and Societal Measures...The best, most wide-reaching suicide prevention techniques exert their effects by helping to make our country, communities, organizations and families as physically and mentally healthy as possible.
Founded in 1963 with the initial focus of providing telephone intervention to people experiencing suicidal crisis. Over the years, the focus of the agency has gradually shifted from strictly suicide prevention to more general counseling services.
Delivering national leadership for the meaningful reduction of suicide in Australia.
Most teens interviewed after making a suicide attempt say that they did it because they were trying to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with or to get relief from really bad thoughts or feelings.
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