Suicide: the Reality
- In 2019, there were 47,511 reported deaths by suicide in the United States
- In the United States, there is one death every 11.1 minutes (2019 Data).
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 2nd leading cause for youth
- 6 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide
- 2 million attempted to die by suicide; that is 1 every 26 seconds
- 3 female attempts for every male attempt
- For every person who dies by suicide, there are approximately 135 persons exposed to the suicide death; that is 6.9 million annually (Cerel, 2019).
- 40-50% of Americans are exposed to a suicide death sometime in their lifetime.
- Older Americans makeup 14.9% of the population but account for 17.9% of reported suicide deaths.
Suicide is never the answer. There are other ways out.
Recognize the Signs
Individuals thinking about suicide often demonstrate their intentions, indirectly asking for help, by exhibiting signs. It may be difficult to see the signs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Though all people do not exhibit the same signs, there are some common factors identified with increased risk. All signs are worth recognizing and deserve a response. “IS PATH WARM?” is an acronym you can use to remember the signs.
Ideation: Thinking, talking, or writing about suicide
Substance Abuse: Increased or newuse in alcohol or other drugs
Purposelessness: No reason for living, nor future thinking/talking/planning
Anxiety: Feeling anxious or worrying about something to the point of irrational thinking
Trapped: No way out; unable to think of a clear next step
Hopelessness: Believing nothing can help; there is no possibility of life ever getting better in the future
Withdrawn: Pulling away from loved ones, social groups or activities
Anger: Expressing rage, intense irritability or seeking revenge
Recklessness: Engaging in risky behavior, acting without thinking
Mood Changes: Unusual or dramatic changes in mood
Respond: Ask about Suicide
If the word suicide has crossed your mind about a person who seems to exhibit depression or is in significant psychological pain, then it has probably crossed his or her mind as well.
YOU HAVE TO RESPOND BY ASKING THE QUESTION… SUICIDE?
Saying the word SUICIDE is most effective. Saying the word is not going to make someone more likely to think or act on thoughts of suicide. There is nothing to lose and much to gain asking about suicide. This is an opportunity to save someone’s life. You don’t always get a chance for hindsight. You have to act.
Preventing suicide is a topic worth discussing.
React: Seek Help
REACT involves seeking the appropriate help for the person at risk and assisting in immediate safety. It is not your responsibility to solve all the issues and guide them through every step of the crisis. You are the initial link in helping the person at risk.
Restriction of Means: Restrict access to lethal means by removing firearms, prescription medications or other potential means.
Emergency Contacts: Work to identify personal and traditional points of contact including a 24/7 resource.
Access to Resources: Link the individual to community resources.
Create a Safety Plan: Work with the individual to develop a personalized plan.
Treatment Referral: Actively link the individual to a medical or mental health professional.
You may be the one to save somebody’s someone.