September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and organizations across the globe are raising awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 38,364 suicides for that year—an average of 105 each day. In 2013, suicide was responsible for 41,149 deaths. A million adults (0.5% of the population) attempt suicide each year, and 2.2 million (1% of the population) say they made a suicide plan in the last year.
On Twitter, users are discussing the issue using the hashtag #worldsuicidepreventionday.
Raising Awareness: Facts About Suicide
- Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all ages, and the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.
- Many people survive suicide attempts, but these attempts can produce lifelong injuries. A survey of high school students found that 8% tried to kill themselves in the last year. For every 25 suicide attempts, one is successful.
- Men represent 79% of all suicides, and are four times more likely to kill themselves than women.
- One person in the world dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
- Access to firearms greatly increases the risk of suicide. Firearms, suffocation, and poisoning are the top three methods of youth suicide.
Warning Signs of Suicidemental health issues, as well as a recent loss, can be significant predictors of suicide. Some other warning signs include:
- Talking about killing oneself, feeling trapped, or feeling hopeless—the more detailed and concrete the suicide plan, the higher the risk of suicide is.
- Reckless behavior, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, taking more risks, or disregarding the feelings and safety of others
- Giving things away or making a plan for after death
- Increased aggression
- Calling or visiting loved ones to say goodbye
- Unpleasant and overwhelming emotions, such as hostility, sadness, anxiety, or irritability
Helping a Loved One
If someone you know threatens suicide or displays warning signs that he or she might commit suicide, take them seriously. People do not typically threaten suicide for attention. Instead, try the following steps:
- Listen to your loved one, and offer compassion and empathy without judgment. Minimizing his or her feelings, shaming him or her for suicidal impulses, or telling your loved one you will not listen to him or her can increase painful emotions, thereby increasing the risk of suicide.
- Do not keep your loved one’s feelings a secret. Seek help to keep him or her safe. Tell a parent, teacher, spouse, or other loved one who may be able to help, particularly if the person is a child. Choose whom to tell selectively; if a teenager is upset about an abusive parent, for instance, it might be better to tell a teacher or grandparent.
- Remove means of committing suicide, such as weapons and pills.
- Stay with the person if you are concerned suicide is imminent.
- Ask your loved one to agree to delay the suicide for a day, a week, or a month to see if things get better.
- Offer a distraction. Sometimes the pain of depression or a loss coupled with isolation or boredom can worsen suicidal feelings. Offer to take your loved one to lunch or to an activity he or she has previously enjoyed.
- Encourage your loved one to seek help, and reassure him or her that therapy can work.
If you need help immediately, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can call any time to seek help for yourself or a loved one. Remember that the hotline is a crisis intervention tool—not a substitute for therapy or loving support from friends and family.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/someone.aspx
- Preventing suicide: Reaching out and saving lives. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iasp.info/wspd/
- Suicide facts at a glance [PDF]. (n.d.). Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Suicide facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6
- Suicide prevention. (2015, March 10). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_suicide.html
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