Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that in 2020, 45,979 Americans died from suicide, with an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts. Of the Americans polled by The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 93% think that suicide is preventable.
It is hard to know if someone is contemplating suicide. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, there are some behavioral signs that someone is contemplating suicide. If someone is talking about wanting to die, having great shame or guilt, or expressing feeling like a burden they might be contemplating suicide. Additionally, if someone begins withdrawing from friends and family or saying goodbyes to loved ones it is a cause for concern. If you or someone you know has displayed these signs, it is important to reach out for help.
There is no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when life stressors combine with health issues that can lead to hopelessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide when it is undiagnosed or untreated.
There are some factors that can put people at a higher risk for suicide. According to the CDC, these risk factors fall into four categories: individual factors, relationship factors, community factors, and societal factors. Individual factors include serious illness or chronic pain, criminal or legal problems, financial problems, impulsive tendencies, violent victimization or perpetration, and substance use. Relationship factors include bullying, family history of suicide, loss of a relationship, high conflict or violent relationships, and social isolation. Community factors include lack of access to healthcare, suicide clusters in the community, community violence, historical trauma, and discrimination. Finally, societal risk factors include the stigma associated with mental health and seeking help, easy access to lethal means of suicide, and unsafe portrayals of suicide in the media.
On the opposite side, each of these four categories also has suicide protection factors. For example in the individual factors, having effective coping mechanisms and a strong sense of cultural identity can protect someone from suicide. Seeking help from mental health professionals can also protect someone from suicide risks.
Suicide is something that is completely preventable. There are many resources available for people with suicidal thoughts and for the families of an individual that has attempted or completed suicide.
If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are crisis lines available. These crisis lines allow the person to anonymously talk to someone about their feelings. According to research by the American Psychiatric Association, suicidal crises are usually intense but transient and impulsive. The most important moment to prevent suicide is when someone is in the middle of a suicidal crisis.
The national helpline number is 988.
Reach out today, for additional information on suicide prevention.