Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

  Someone in this country dies by suicide every 12.8 minutes. The national suicide rate has increased to 12.6 suicide deaths per 100,000 and for ages 18 to 35 only unintentional injuries account for more deaths.  In general, suicide is now the 10th most frequent cause of death in the country.

Do you know that most suicides are preventable as most victims tell someone they plan to hurt themselves before they act?  In more than half of the cases examined over two decades, “someone knew of the prior suicidal ideation before it happened.”   We know through research that reaching out can save a life.  There is no single cause for suicide.  Mental health conditions — often undiagnosed or untreated — play a critical role with other risk factors and life stressors to temporarily overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and increase their risk for suicide.  We also know that there are warning signs that all of us can learn to identify and support one another.  What would you do if a coworker acted recklessly or angrily, engaged in risky behavior or suddenly increase their alcohol use?  Would you pull them aside or assume it is none of your business?  

Recognizing the risk factors can save lives. Some are overt; someone threatening to kill or hurt him or herself, or seeking access to guns, pills, or other lethal means.  Some are less obvious, as suicidal people may talk or write about death or dying. They may project hopelessness, rage, anger, or that they feel trapped. Some are anxious or agitated; some may increase their use of alcohol or drugs. They often withdraw from family, or have dramatic changes in mood.  Suicide is not chosen; it happens when psychological pain exceeds one’s resources for coping with pain. We need to know more, and we need to use what we know.

That is why we believe all of us need to know what to look for and, like with the Heimlich maneuver, or CPR, know what to do when someone is in distress. People of all ages should be trained through educational initiatives in our schools, workplaces and communities that not only raise the public’s awareness but enable us to help people at risk. There are effective programs like Mental Health First Aid, to know how to recognize when someone is struggling, to believe that it is acceptable to offer support, and to be confident acting on that support to refer people to professional help.  
Cornerstone Montgomery has trained Mental Health First Aid facilitators who can train you, your community and colleagues, to know what to look for and what to do when you see risk factors.  This can save lives – won’t you join us and the National Council to be 1 in a million – 1 of the million people who will be trained in Mental Health First Aid in by the end of 2016?  Please click here to find out how you can make a difference!