This week, September 5-11, has been designated as Suicide Prevention Week. It is a topic few people like to discuss but it is an essential conversation we need to have in recognizing and identifying the signs that a friend or loved one may be thinking of suicide and how to help that person before it is too late. Those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia are especially at risk for having suicidal thoughts and for acting on these thoughts.
Far too many of the questions we get here on My Depression Connection are from members who are either seeking help because they are feeling suicidal or from loved ones who are desperate to know how to prevent their family member or friend from acting upon their suicidal thoughts. It is absolutely gut wrenching to witness such pain and despair which causes a person to think of ending everything in order to get rid of that pain.
If you have ever had thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. This problem is far more common than most people realize. The following statistics and research provided by The American Association of Suicidology show the magnitude of how much work needs to be done in preventing suicide.
• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) released a press report last fall (2009) about their nationwide study revealing that 8.3 million adults in the U.S. had serious thoughts of committing suicide in the past year, 2.3 million adults made a suicide plan, and 1.1 million adults actually made the attempt to commit suicide.
• Substance abuse greatly increases the risk of suicide. The risk of suicide in alcoholics is 50 to 70 percent higher than the general population.
• It is estimated that 5 million people in the United States are survivors of suicide (those who have lost a loved one to suicide).
• In the United States, more people die by suicide (50% more) each year than by homicide.
• Over 90 percent of suicide victims have a significant psychiatric illness at the time of their death. These are often undiagnosed, untreated, or both.
What are the signs of suicide?
Sometimes it is very difficult to assess the danger level to your loved one’s suicidal thoughts. It is, therefore, best to take any mention of suicide as a serious concern, and get that person some help before the thoughts escalate into action. The American Association of Suicidology has created a mnemonic to remember the warning signs of suicide called “IS PATH WARM?”
S Substance Abuse
M Mood Changes
Here are some additional warning signs of suicide from Suicide.org:
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Acting impulsively.