Every suicide is a tragedy, and every one of them could likely be avoided somehow. There is no greater loss than loss of life, and the loved ones of people who take their own lives are the ones left behind trying to figure out what happened before having to pick up the pieces and move on somehow. The best way to deal with this intensely difficult problem is to work towards suicide prevention in every case.
Total suicide prevention may not be realistic or even possible, but pursuing this goal is still a worthwhile effort given the innumerable success stories people will achieve along the way. The importance of this goal and the way towards it begins with awareness. This week is Suicide Prevention Week, and our team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered would like to provide you with some important facts, statistics and ideas that could help you recognize dangers with people you love in hopes that if such a situation arises, you’ll be able to help with suicide prevention in your own way.
Suicide Statistics – Troubling Data
The first place to delve into the benefits of successful suicide prevention is by looking at where we stand in the United States. Unfortunately, it’ll come as little surprise to most that the statistics regarding suicide across the country are not good by almost any objective measure.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or the AFSP, nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in the year 2020 alone. That’s approximately 126 people every day, or more than 5 people every hour, all year long. In addition, estimates indicate that there were approximately 1.2 million suicide attempts during the same year.
Other little-known facts reported by the AFSP include:
- In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women.
- White males accounted for nearly 70 percent of American suicides in 2020.
- Firearms were used in more than half of all suicides that year.
Perhaps what was most striking in these reported statistics was that 93 percent of people think that suicide can be prevented successfully.
It’s clear that suicide is a serious public health problem in the United States, as more people die by suicide on an annual basis across the country than are killed in car accidents and other, more publicized causes. This needs to change, and suicide prevention and awareness is the best place to start.
Other Leading Causes of Suicide
In addition to firearms, there are other leading causes of suicide, and according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, or the SPRC, these include:
- Suffocation – 27 percent
- Drug poisoning – 9 percent
- Non-drug poisoning – 3 percent
- Cut/pierce – 2 percent
- Falls – 2 percent
- Drowning – 1 percent
- Other – 1 percent
Warning Signs of Suicide
While no two suicidal situations are ever exactly alike, there are certain common warning signs of suicide that people could watch for if they are concerned that someone they love is in trouble in this regard. Common warning signs of suicide include:
- Someone talking about wanting to or being ready to die
- A person lamenting the idea that he/she is a burden on others
- Expressions of intense guilt or shame
- Withdrawing from friends and family members
- Withdrawing from social activities and hobbies
- Giving things away
- Extreme mood swings
- Periods of seemingly intense happiness or relief
- Changes in eating norms
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in overall behavior
While no two people are going to display the same types of warning signs, successful suicide prevention will involve, at least at its base, a “gut feeling” or an instinct that something is very wrong with the person who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. Most people do not come right out and announce that they are going to commit suicide, so it’s not always easy to detect or overt when this becomes a possibility.
What To Do To Engage in Successful Suicide Prevention
If you become increasingly concerned that someone is contemplating suicide, then you need to waste no time in acting. Successful suicide prevention is not a slow, plodding or ponderous process. Fortunately, and as we’ve discussed recently, there is a new suicide prevention hotline number that people can call either if they are considering suicide or if they are concerned about someone else. Therefore, a positive first step is to dial 988 to explain your situation and find out more about what you can do for your loved one.
You should also approach that person and have a plan to stay with him or her until help arrives if you feel that the act is imminent. Regardless of the specifics, you need to help that person understand that you care about them, that you’re going to stick with them and that you’re going to help them find help, as suicide is not the answer to any problem. Perhaps most importantly, you need to listen to that person but not judge. He or she already feels ostracized and like an outcast most likely, so scolding this person will not do any good.
Ultimately, if the situation is dire, then call 911 to have first responders come and help this person. This may not be a pleasant step or one that the person you’re worried about will appreciate in the moment, but in this situation saving a life is all that matters.
How SoCal Empowered Can Help
Ultimately and fortunately, there are treatments available for people who are suffering from suicide ideation, as it’s often called. SoCal Empowered offers suicide ideation treatment specifically for these situations, as do many other mental health resources. These treatments can include:
- Individual therapy
- Family/group therapy
- Lifestyle changes
Every person is different, and every treatment approach is different. What matters most is that if you’re concerned about someone in this regard, get help. During this Suicide Prevention Week, we all owe it to each other to know just a bit more about this difficult situation and how to help others who may need it. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your mental health struggles.