Suicide is a serious public health issue in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with over 48,000 suicides per year.
In this article, we will address:
- Causes of suicidal depression
- Signs of suicidal risk
- Reducing access to means of suicide
- Addressing social and economic factors
- How to stop suicidal thoughts
- How to help someone who is suicidal
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
Suicide is a complex issue and is often caused by a combination of genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors.
Suicide and Mental Health
Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are major factors contributing to the incidence of suicide in the United States. Depression and anxiety can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair, making it difficult for individuals to see a way out of their suffering.
What Causes Suicidal Depression?
Suicidal depression, also known as major depressive disorder with suicidal ideation, can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Biological factors: A family history of depression, changes in brain chemistry, and imbalances in hormones such as cortisol and serotonin can all contribute to the development of depression.
- Life events: Traumatic life events, such as the loss of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, or financial difficulties, can trigger depression.
- Social factors: Social isolation, lack of support from family and friends, poor living conditions, lack of employment, and drug epidemics can increase the risk of developing depression.
- Mental health conditions: Other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can increase the risk of suicidal depression.
It is important to note that not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop suicidal depression, but if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal depression, it is critically important to seek professional help from a mental health provider immediately. Suicidal thoughts are symptoms of underlying conditions and can be overcome with the right support and treatment.
What are the Signs of Suicide Risk?
Identifying the signs of suicide risk is the first step towards getting people the help they need. Signs that someone may be at risk of suicide include:
- Talking about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Talking about wanting to die or to hurt oneself
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Anxious or agitated behavior
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Changes in sleep or eating habits
- Giving away prized possessions
Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
Take these signs seriously and act on them if you suspect that someone you know may be at risk of suicide. Talk to them about your concerns and help them by:
- Being there for them and listening to them
- Helping them connect with a mental health professional
- Removing any firearms or other potential means of suicide from their home
- Helping them to find resources such as support groups or suicide hotlines
Reducing Access to Means of Suicide
A critical aspect of suicide prevention is reducing access to means of suicide. Access to firearms is a significant risk factor for suicide, and research has shown that states with stricter gun laws have lower suicide rates. Additionally, other community measures such as installing barriers on bridges and other high-risk locations, can prevent individuals from completing suicide.
Addressing Social and Economic Factors
It is also important to address the social and economic factors that contribute to suicide. This can include addressing access to healthcare, poverty, and unemployment, as well as addressing the social stigma associated with mental health and seeking help.
Many organizations and resources exist, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
available to educate yourself about suicide and how to help those who may be at risk.
How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal
When someone is expressing suicidal thoughts, they are in a very vulnerable state and need extra support and care. It is important to take their feelings and thoughts seriously and seek professional help immediately. Try to stay calm and be patient, and listen without judgment. Remember that it is not your responsibility to fix the person’s problems, but to be there for them and help them to find the resources they need to get the help they need.
Here are some steps you can take to help them:
- Stay with the person and listen to them without judgment.
- Ask the person if they have a plan for suicide and remove any means of self-harm, such as weapons or pills.
- Call a crisis hotline or emergency services to get immediate help.
- Encourage the person to seek professional ongoing help from a therapist or a doctor
- Offer ongoing support and check in on the person regularly.
What to Say to Someone Who is Suicidal
Here are some things you can say to someone who is suicidal:
- “I’m here for you”: Let the person know that you care about them and are available to listen and support them.
- “You are not alone. We can work through this together.”
- “This is not your fault”: Let the person know their suicidal thoughts are not their fault.
- “You are important to me and so many other people. We love and care about you”: Remind the person they are valued and that their life is important to you and others.
- “It is okay to feel sad and overwhelmed and to ask for help.”
- “Let’s get help”: Help secure professional help by contacting a crisis hotline. Offer to go with them to their first appointment.
- “I am here for you and will support you through this tough time. The future will be better”: Remind the person that things will improve.
- “I am here to listen without judgment.”
How to Stop Suicidal Thoughts
Stopping suicidal thoughts can be challenging. Here are some strategies that may be helpful to you or a loved one:
- Seek professional help: a mental health professional can help you understand your thoughts and emotions and provide strategies to manage them.
- Reach out to someone: Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, whether it’s a family member, friend, or mental health professional.
- Practice self-care: Prioritize taking care of your physical and emotional needs, including getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that make you feel good.
- Create a safety plan: Work with a mental health professional to create a plan for what to do when suicidal thoughts arise, including emergency contacts, coping strategies, and a plan for getting help.
- Use distraction techniques: Engage in activities that occupy your mind and body, such as exercise, reading, listening to music, or doing a puzzle.
Suicide is preventable. Help is available for those who are struggling. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
By identifying those at risk for suicide, providing support and resources, and addressing the social and economic factors that contribute to suicide, we can work together to reduce the rates of suicide in the United States and save lives. Suicide is preventable, and help is available for struggling people.
Catawba Valley Healthcare is here in our community to help with suicide prevention and all mental health crises. Our crisis support and mobile response services are available 24/7 at (828) 695-2511. Our crisis clinicians can respond to work, home, school, and community crises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.