Millions of Americans Struggle with Suicidal Thoughts
In recent years, a push for mental health awareness has gained more and more support. More people are beginning to accept and understand the seriousness of mental illness. For years, people felt like because they couldn’t see someone’s affliction that it did not exist. To further increase awareness, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
This month is a time to share resources and stories about one’s experience with mental illness and suicide, whether from losing a loved one or experiencing suicidal tendencies. National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month aims to shed light on the topic of suicide with the hopes of destigmatizing the discussion around it.
Every day, people continue to struggle with their mental health. Whether because no one believes them, they are ashamed of their affliction, or they do not have access to the proper resources, far too many people feel like suicide is their only option.
However, with an increased push for suicide awareness like National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we hope to see more people feel comfortable discussing this stigmatized topic. Hopefully, in the future, we can see a drastic decrease in the number of suicides.
If you or someone you love struggles with their mental health or experiences suicidal tendencies, contact Lifeworks Counseling Center and let us help.
Unfortunately, suicide continues to be a growing concern throughout the country. Often, individuals express signs of mental illness or suicidal tendencies. However, these signs tend to go unnoticed. These struggling individuals do not receive the care they need.
It is vital to recognize these signs before it is too late, especially during periods of distress, such as the current pandemic.
To get a better understanding of suicide, here are some crucial statistics:
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- In 2018, there were roughly 1.4 million suicide attempts, with 48,344 suicides.
- According to the CDC, the rate of suicide is 14.5 per 100,000 population.
- In 2018, roughly 47.6 million adults over the age of 18 had some form of mental illness in the past year, with 11.4 million experiencing serious mental illness over that same period.
- Only 43% of adults receive treatment for their mental illness in a given year, while 64% of those with serious mental illness receive treatment.
- There is an average delay of 11 years between the onset of symptoms and treatment.
- Around 123 Americans commit suicide every day.
- Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, making up nearly 79% of all suicides in the U.S.
- However, women attempt suicide three times more than men.
- 1 in 100,000 children between the ages of 10-14 commits suicide each year.
- Suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts are most common in adults between the ages of 18-29 than adults over 30.
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to attempt and commit suicide than straight individuals.
- The rate of death by suicide increased by 30% between 2000 and 2016.
As you can see, suicide continues to be a concern throughout the U.S. It affects people of all ages, genders, races, and sexual orientations. Anyone can fall victim to mental illness.
You cannot see or experience what someone is feeling on the inside, so it can be hard to recognize if someone needs help.
However, as they struggle with mental illness and thoughts of suicide, they often give off warning signs, such as:
- Talking about wanting to die, wanting to kill themselves, or not wanting to be alive anymore
- Expressing feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
- Saying there is no reason for them to live
- Giving away personal belongs or creating a will
- Engaging in destructive behavior (recklessness, substance abuse, etc.)
- Engaging in self-harm
- Avoiding social interactions
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little, leading to weight loss or gain
- Expressing signs of extreme anxiousness, agitation, or paranoia
- Dramatic mood swings
- Avoiding activities they once enjoyed
- Lashing out at others
These are just a handful of potential warning signs that a loved one may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies. If you recognize them, make an effort to get them the help that they need.
Talking to Someone Who Is Suicidal
If you suspect that a loved one is considering suicide, reach out to them and talk to them about your concerns. Suicide is a serious matter, and any sign or warning of suicide should be treated as such.
However, making the first move can be difficult. It is vital that you remain non-judgmental and open. Do not approach the person confrontationally. While it may seem blunt, do not shy away from asking direct questions, such as “Are you thinking about suicide?”
During the conversation, make sure you:
- Acknowledge and reassure them that what they are feeling is legitimate.
- Offer your support and encouragement.
- Express your concerns in a calm and respectful manner.
- Do not try to minimize their problems or feelings.
- Listen to what they have to say.
- Let them know that there is help available to them that can help them navigate these feelings.
- Remind them that they are not alone by offering your love and support.
For those who have never dealt with these feelings before, these conversations can be intimidating. However, it is these uncomfortable conversations that might save a life.
Offer to help them find support from a healthcare provider or a licensed therapist. Show them that you are with them. Volunteer to go with them on their first appointment. However, do not pressure them into seeking treatment.
What to Do If There is an Immediate Risk
There are instances where the risk may be immediate. The person may have already set their plans for suicide in motion. If you believe that someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or suicide, do not hesitate.
Call 911 or contact your local emergency number. Do not leave that person’s side until help arrives. Get rid of anything that could present a risk to the person, such as guns, knives, or medications. Listen to what they have to say, but do not argue, judge, or threaten them. These moments can be stressful and overwhelming, so try to stay as calm as possible.
Suicide is a growing concern across the country. While, in recent years, there has been more of an effort to raise awareness, we still need to do more. Throughout National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, join Lifeworks Counseling Center in spreading vital information about suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, give us a call today and let us help.