The Tragic Uptrend of Suicide and How You Can Help

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In the past few years, a growing number suicide related stories seem to flood news sites across the nation. Reports of bullied teenagers ending their budding young lives, incredibly shocking celebrity deaths (Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain) and a spike so high in recent veteran suicides that it is now considered a true ‘phenomenon’. The heartbreaking news of these tragedies leave us saddened, confused and begging for answers to the difficult & elusive question: “WHY?”

The frightening truth is that suicides are increasing at an alarming rate with no signs of slowing down. Government research sheds light on this very disturbing reality. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicide rates have risen dramatically across most of the country in the past two decades. According to the CDC study, the rate of suicide in the U.S. rose nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2016. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide.

Experts say that there is rarely just one thing that leads people to commit suicide. Although there is a huge focus on those with mental health issues, researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide during the study period did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. In fact many other common life issues, including relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, financial stress and legal issues often contributed to a higher risk for suicide.

This certainly serves as a stark reminder that if someone in your life has been undergoing significant changes or crisis in life it’s important to reach out. This can be a very fragile time where people can turn a corner emotionally and it’s a potentially important time to support your friends or loved ones.

Here are some key warning signs according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Extreme mood swings

How Can You Help?

It can be scary when a friend or loved one is struggling emotionally and exhibiting some of the warning signs of potential suicide. You can help. Knowing what to say and how to say can really make a difference. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a professionally trained counselor who will give you the tools you need to gently discuss the situation with your suffering loved one. Also, it’s important to take care of yourself while you are supporting someone through a difficult time, as this may stir up difficult emotions. You can call the same number to receive extra support, 24/7.

It is a great act of human compassion to educate yourself and your loved ones about the warning signs of suicide. It is even more important to share the abundant resources available to assist someone in need. Every life is precious and together we stand a greater chance to make a difference and ultimately reverse the direction of this tragic trend.

Additional resources:

You can also refer to or visit your:

• Primary care provider
• Local psychiatric hospital
• Local walk-in clinic
• Local emergency department
• Local urgent care center