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More research is needs to be done on suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in order to correctly direct interventions to reverse the trend of completed suicide. Across the world, suicide remains one the leading causes of death as well as lost years of life. There have been efforts made to reduce these death through treatment and prevention strategies for suicide that also address suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. However, there has been no change in the estimates going forward. Suicide still looks to be among the leading causes of death in 2030.

There have been large scale studies done on suicidal thoughts and attempts which shows correlations between suicide attempts and ideation, namely in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication data. This included looking at psychiatric conditions or substance use disorders, along with being unemployed, previously married, female, younger, and less educated. Data taken from large populations also imply that about 64% of people experiencing suicidal thoughts, and 79% of those attempting suicide, seek out any type of medical or specialized treatment in the year prior to being assessed. Whereas, just 44% of those experiencing suicidal ideation and 61% of those attempting suicide, seek out specialized mental health treatment. The purpose of this particular study was to look at the characteristics of those not receiving specialized psychiatric treatment of those who had suicide attempts and suicidal ideation.

The data analyzed came from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health from 2008 – 2009. It revealed the responses from 75,690 people 18 years of age and older who were willing to answer questions about their mental health and questions related to suicide.

In all, 3.7% of participants had thoughts of suicide, 1.0% actually came up with a suicide plan, and .5% had a suicide attempt during the 12 months prior to being assessed. Of about 52% who reported having suicidal ideation, 64% actually came up with a suicide plan, and 66% who did attempt suicide looked for psychiatric services, either mental health or drug or alcohol treatment within the year prior to being assessed. Lack of psychiatric or mental health treatment was commonly seen among people who actually had suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

There is no surprise in the fact that people who were suffering from depression, in some form of psychological distress, or used alcohol and/or drugs were more apt to have suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and look for specialized psychiatric and/or mental health services. Nevertheless, it is important to note that of those experiencing suicide ideation or suicide attempts, it was revealed that men, people from a racial minority, those 18 to 25 years old, and people without insurance coverage were less apt to seek out psychiatric and/or mental health services. Interesting, there is a trend for men who have suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviors to wind up also receiving treatment for alcohol and/or drug use, usually because they are trying to “self medicate” their emotional pain.  Women who have suicide attempts and suicidal ideation tend to get mental health treatment more often than substance abuse treatment.

This study’s results reveal that more than 3.5% of people in the general population had suicidal thoughts, and 1 in 200 people actually attempted suicide during the past year. Not getting specialized psychiatric and/or mental health treatment was common in people experiencing suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Unfortunately, less than 66.6% of all individuals that made a suicide attempt got any specialized mental health treatment.  Treatment is available to help you cope with suicidal thoughts or if you have made a suicide attempt.

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