Suicides are among the most heartbreaking events that could occur in one’s lifetime. Every suicide may not be preventable. But, experts say, a staggering number of suicides are preventable. In order to do that, we need to become more aware of some of the warning signs that strike and be able to identify those symptoms when we see them displayed by a family member or friend. The next step is to get them the help and resources they need in order to overcome whatever challenge it is that could be driving them to take that extreme step.
Suicides in the United States
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. About 42,773 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year, higher than the number of people who die in car accidents. Men die by suicide three times more often than women. On average, there are 117 suicides each day in this country. In 2014, white males accounted for seven out of 10 suicides. Firearms are involved in almost 50 percent of all suicides. The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged people, particularly among white men.
Understanding the Warning Signs
There are several telltale warning signs one might observe in individuals with suicidal thoughts. The person might talk about being a burden to others, feeling trapped or experiencing unbearable pain. In some cases, they might even talk about not having a reason to live or killing themselves.
Some of the behavioral indicators may include increased use of alcohol or drugs, searching online for materials on suicide, acting recklessly, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little and increased aggression. People who are considering suicide are also often depressed, angry, irritable or anxious. Untreated mental illness or family history of suicide could also be factors in some cases.
How Can You Help?
• Take suicidal comments seriously. When a person says they want to kill themselves, get help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
• Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately for anyone who is at high risk for suicide.
• Try not to act shocked. The person might become even more distressed. Try to stay calm and get help as soon as possible.
• Do not attempt to handle the situation on your own. A suicidal person might need immediate help from qualified mental health professionals.
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