WHAT IS SUICIDE PREVENTION?
Suicide is defined as an individual intentionally taking their own life or killing themselves. It is usually associated with a serious psychological disorder, such as major depression, or an emotional crisis which seems to have no solution and/or gets increasingly more difficult over time. People who are experiencing a major depression or who are in crisis may exhibit signs that they are contemplating suicide, which is an opportunity for suicide prevention. Suicide prevention usually entails getting treatment for depression.
In the US, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death, and more than 1% of all deaths are suicides. Suicide claims more years of life than any other cause of death besides cancer and heart disease. Every year in the United States, 30,000 people die from suicide, and 500,000 additional people attempt suicide. Suicide prevention saves lives.
HOW IS AGE RELATED TO SUICIDE PREVENTION?
For people between 15 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, and for those between 25 and 44, it is the fourth. 40% of suicide victims are over sixty, though this age group makes up only 20% of the population. The suicide rate for people over 75 is three times greater than the average, and for white males over 80 years old, it is six times greater. Each age group represents unique opportunities for suicide prevention.
DO PEOPLE ATTEMPT SUICIDE MULTIPLE TIMES?
Yes, they do. 30% to 40% of those who died from suicide have attempted suicide at some point in the past. The ratio of attempted suicides to completed suicides is about 10:1. Thus, while the majority of cases result in suicide prevention, in the first year after a suicide attempt, the risk of attempting suicide again is 100 times greater than the average. These rates are even higher for men and the elderly.
HOW IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE RELATED TO SUICIDE?
Substance abuse is a risk factor which may be linked to increased suicidal ideation and/or suicide attempts, and may be a factor in up to half of all suicides. Alcohol problems are present in about 20% of those who attempt suicide, and those who have problems with alcohol are three or four times more likely to commit suicide. Men over 45 who have alcoholism or depression are more likely than any other group to commit suicide. Substance abuse reduction, especially in those affected by depression, can contribute to a suicide prevention strategy.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SUICIDE METHODS?
The most common methods used to commit suicide are firearms, poisoning, and suffocation. Suicide prevention should include the removal of firearms, medications and access to other lethal means for those who are at high risk for suicide.
DO MEN AND WOMEN TEND TO USE DIFFERENT METHODS?
Yes. Men are almost twice as likely to use firearms than women, and women are more than three times as likely to use poison. Suffocation is equally common among men and women.
WHAT DO I DO IF SOMEONE I KNOW TALKS ABOUT SUICIDE?
The most important thing to do is take them seriously and ask them questions to find out more. Talking about suicide will not make them more suicidal, but may help with suicide prevention. You may want to ask,
- If they are thinking about attempting suicide
- If they’ve ever tried to hurt or kill themselves in the past
- If they think they may hurt themselves or attempt suicide today (is it an immediate threat?)
- If they have a plan and if they have access to anything they might use to hurt themselves
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION?
If you believe that the person may be at risk of hurting themselves, do not leave them alone. Tell them calmly and compassionately that you’re going to get them some help. Suicide prevention can be highly effective. Up to 90% of our clients start treatment with thoughts of killing themselves. Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression, suicide and other mental health disorders. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of killing themselves, suicide, showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a suicide prevention treatment plan that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression, suicide and anxiety can be highly successful. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.