Suicide prevention is not only a possibility…suicide is 100% PREVENTABLE! While people who intend to take their own lives can be hostile, they can still be convinced to reconsider their intentions through suicide prevention. More often than not, suicide victims reach out before they take their life, because deep down inside…they really don’t want to do it. This article is about suicide prevention and should be read be everybody because suicide prevention SO important!
Suicide was ranked tenth in the top causes of death in the US in 2010. In that year, suicide accounted for 38,364 deaths. Statistics show that for every 100,000 deaths, 11.3 are suicides. Even worse is the fact that for every suicidal death, there are approximately 11 attempted suicides. SOMEBODY dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes in the United States alone!!!
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) defines suicide risk factors as “characteristics and conditions” that increase chances of a suicide occurring. The foundation says that suicide is most likely to happen if a person exhibits more than one of the following risk factors:
• Substance abuse
• Anti-social or borderline personality disorder
• Conduct disorder (prevalent in youths)
• Psychotic disorder
• Aggression and impulsivity especially where mental disorder exists
• If the person has attempted suicide in the past
• A history of murder or attempted murder in the family
• Extreme pain or a serious medical condition
Other factors might include:
• Violence in the family including physical and sexual abuse
• Existence of firearms in the home
The environment where the person spends most of his or her time can also increase the possibility of suicide. High stressing moments, such as the loss of a loved one, trouble with the law or financial problems may mentally disorient the victim. Unemployment and harassment/bullying. as well as relationship conflicts, have also been found to increase chances of suicides. Finally, exposure to suicide, whether in real life or in graphics, can also influence a victim.
The breakdown of risk by demographics can be summarized as follows:
Gender — there are more male than female suicides in the US with statistics showing that for every female suicide, there are four male suicides.
Age — adults aged 65 years or more are at the highest risk of suicide with 14.3 suicide deaths for every 100,000 deaths. In young people, those aged between 20 and 24 are at the highest risk with 12.7 deaths per 100,000 compared to 0.9 and 6.9 per 100,000 for age groups 10-14 and 15-19, respectively. It is not surprising that the highest risk is associated with 20-24 year olds, as discussed in Military Suicide in America.
There are conditions or characteristics that may help decrease suicide risks. As an example, individuals who posses certain skills or abilities, can be encouraged to get involved with solving problems, helping others and regain confidence and self-meaning. The administration of meaningful heath care is also an important component in helping potential victims. Most important are positive relationship with peers, family members, the community and other social institutions, as these groups may help people at risk lean to be resilient.
Many times there are warning signs and you need to be aware of them. When recognized, suicide prevention should be approached boldly. Someone who is contemplating suicide may say it directly “I am going to commit suicide” or indirectly “I see no other way out.” Such a person will show at least one of the following signs:
• Talking about how he/she intends to take his/her life.
• Looking for tools of suicide such as guns and medicines.
• Loss of interest in things.
• Social isolation
• Humiliation, rage, agitation and irritation
Most important is to take it seriously! About 75% of people who commit suicide tell someone about it before it happens. If the person shows any of the warning signs above, do not hesitate to take action. You can contact AFPS or any of the suicide prevention societies in the US including the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS), the American Society of Suicidology (ASS) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) among others.
Talk to the person. Start by telling this person how much you are concerned about their well being. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask whether they are planning to commit suicide and what methods they plan to use. Ask if they are on medication so that the doctor can be consulted. Finally, instead of urging them out of suicide, make them know that you care about them.
As a part of suicide prevention, ask them to seek professional help. Try to convince them to see a mental health professional or a physician. Most people on the brink of committing suicide usually believe they can no longer be helped. If they agree to see a professional, you should offer to go with them.
Suicide prevention requires YOU TO ACT! From the moment you know about intended suicide, you should stay as close as possible to the person and never leave them alone. Keep away all drugs, firearms, sharp objects and any other object that could be used for suicide. You should also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Alternatively, just call 911.
Suicide prevention requires you to follow up on the person’s progress! Where medication is prescribed, you should help them take it as prescribed. Keep in touch with the doctor and updates regarding the person’s progress. Your continued encouragements and support will be needed for the entire process of suicide prevention.