September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is now the leading cause of death in the United States. Described as a serious public health problem, statistics tallied 45,979 deaths in 2020. That number correlates to one death every 11 minutes.
The CDC also reports that 1.2 million people attempted suicide in 2020. Also in 2020, the CDC listed suicide as the top ninth leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 through 64 and the second leading cause of death for those between the ages 10 and 14 and 25 to 34. Also noted, Veteran suicide numbers may be higher than reported by the Veterans Administration.
Reports say that factors affecting suicide include race, ethnicity, age, employment, residential location and financial status. Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to their peers who identify as heterosexuals.
The Florida Department of Children and Families reports that more than 3000 Floridians died by suicide in 2020. Despite the number showing a decrease from 2019, suicides among those between 15 and 34 increased from 13 to 18 percent within the last five years. The report also showed that since 2015, Florida remains consistently at or above the national suicide rate blaming COVID 19 as the reason for the increase in those numbers.
Dr. Danielle Madril, Chief Medical Officer with UnitedHealthcare, described suicide as shrouded in a stigma of fear, judgment and discrimination that often prevents those suffering with behavioral health issues from seeking the necessary treatment. Medical studies show that eight out of ten of people dealing with suicidal thoughts exhbit signs of grevious despair incluing feeling burdensome to others, feelings of enrapment, and unbearable suffering. Subjects often express feelings of isolation, anxiety, anger, rage, hoplessness, and hopelessness. These feelings can agitate moods leading to substance abuse, lack of - or too much - sleep and discussions of ending one’s life.
Dr. Madril suggests that candid conversation with someone in a dark mental state can help minimize suicidal thoughts. Early intervention may just save a life. Suggestions include - ask questions; remain concerned but nonconfrontational or judgmental. Share your concerns about their recent changes in mood and behavior. Let them know that they are loved and cared for. Suggest counseling; remain engaged and encourage consistent support with family and friends.
Remain proactive. If someone you know and love is threatening self-harm or “consistently talking, writing or posting about death and suicide, tale action to call 9-1-1.
Anyone experiencing mental-health related distress - or if you know of anyone who is - is urged to Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call or text 988/Chat at 988lifeline.org . Connect with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.
Visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for more information at 988lifeline.org