Stepping Back From The Edge

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Over the past decade there has been a spike in the numbers of suicides. Teens and the elderly have always been viewed as the groups most at risk but the numbers of middle-aged people, particularly men in their 50s, now figure large in mortality statistics.


    During 2010 the suicide rate rose by nearly 30 percent in the 35 to 64-age range. Over 38,000 deaths by suicide were recorded, but for men in their 50s a 50 percent increase (that’s 30 per 100,000) was seen.


    As for the causes, well they are many and varied, and often referred to as ‘complex’ in nature. Officials, via The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who publish morbidity and mortality statistics, have offered some observations. The baby boomer generation itself may be an issue as to their hopes and expectations. Then again, this same generation has been hit by the economic downturn, exposure to opioid drugs, the stress of trying to maintain a certain lifestyle for themselves and others while perhaps also acting as caregivers.

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    People who have stepped back from the edge of suicide often say pretty much the same as those who have attempted suicide but have been saved. Their situation became so unbearable or so intolerably complex and distressing that suicide appeared the best or only option. Often, they will not have shared their innermost concerns on the basis that nobody would truly understand or could possibly say or do anything to help them.


    There are however highly trained and effective people that can and do help. They will often say that the hardest step for someone contemplating suicide is to pick up the telephone and speak to them. Yet there is nothing you can say that will shock them. They aren’t setting themselves up to judge you, and you can trust them to listen properly and keep your information confidential. 


    “So what do I say once I’ve made the call?” You don’t need to be polite and skirt around the issues, you just need to get to the point. Some people feel an overwhelming sense of relief the moment they make human contact. Others may feel all the bottled up emotions rise to the surface and find it hard to speak. The person on the line isn’t in any hurry. They know, sometimes from first-hand experience, exactly what you are going through. Stay with it, take your time, and allow the conversation to unfold.


    This previous example relates to a telephone help/suicide line. But that’s only one way of getting help. For additional reading you might like to read depression and suicide prevention. I may also have given the impression that hotlines are flawless, but one of our former experts writes humorously if somewhat alarmingly about her own experiences of calling a suicide hotline. Even some suicide hotlines have issues it seems!


    Here’s another useful article on suicide and suicidal behavior in which they offer this advice:


    If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are numbers that you can call from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-999-9999.


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    As with any other type of emergency, call the local emergency number (such as 911) right away if someone you know has attempted suicide. Do not leave the person alone, even after you have called for help.

Published On: July 18, 2013