Sadly, suicide is a final and irreversible solution to an individual’s life’s difficulties, real or perceived. It occurs when someone intentionally takes his or her own life. The National Institute of Mental Health considers suicide a public health concern, with approximately 38,000 people dying each year from suicide. This means that someone dies of suicide approximately every 13 minutes. It is one of the top three leading causes of death for individuals ages 15-24. Amazingly, more people die from suicide than homicide each year. The good news is that it is preventable.
Risk factors include depression and other mental disorders, substance abuse disorder, a prior suicide attempt, family history of a mental disorder/substance abuse/suicide, family violence such as physical or sexual abuse, and more. It can also be related to your brain chemistry since individuals with a history of suicide attempts have been found to have a lower level of serotonin. If you or someone you know shows one or more of these warning signs, then reach out immediately to a mental health or medical professional.
To combat the staggering numbers of suicides, suicide prevention efforts, which are based on sound research, focus on ways to reduce factors that may increase risk for an individual while concurrently increasing the resiliency (ability to bounce back) of that individual. Suicide prevention does not just involve the medical community and families, but our social community as well. For example, if suicide prevention is addressed at a national or global level, then efforts can center on better education for awareness and prevention.
If you are currently having suicidal thoughts or are grieving the loss of someone who committed suicide, it is important that you reach out for help. You do not need to go through this alone. Resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (Call 1-800-273-TALK) are available 24/7 should you, or someone you care about, need them.
If it is not an emergency, use the advice and resources provided here -- both for people who may be considering suicide as a way out as well as for friends and family who may be trying to support a suicidal person.
* American Foundation for Suicide Prevention