Suicide is a major and often preventable public health problem in the United States. It is the 11th leading cause of death accounting for over 33,000 deaths and 1.8 million unsuccessful attempts yearly. September 6th to 12th is National Suicide Prevention Week. Through suicide prevention, lives can be saved daily.
Every 16 minutes, someone in the United States takes their own life. In fact, there are twice as many suicides in America than there are homicides. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 24 and for the first time in 10 years the rates are climbing. That is why National Suicide Prevention Week is so valuable for Americans. Through education and awareness, suicide could, in many cases, be prevented.
Research conducted on suicide has concluded that more than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse disorder. Substance abuse is another great instigator of suicide; it may be involved in half of all cases and it is estimated that 20% of suicides result from alcoholism. National Suicide Prevention Week is a vital tool in helping make this valuable information available to people who may be considering suicide to not feel so helpless.
The latest Army report indicates that veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to complete suicide and more active-duty soldiers are now taking their own lives than are being killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide prevention and awareness is now being offered to many military personnel in basic training.
There are a many warning signs for those who are suicidal. The main signs are persistent sadness and depression, excessive anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and helpless, talking about suicide, abusing drugs or alcohol, excessive irritability or anger, difficulty paying attention or staying focused, not being able to function as well at work, school or home and possibly given away prized possessions.
The good news is there is help. National Suicide Awareness Week means many mental health organizations throughout the nation will be offering the depression screening test along with important information about education and outreach. In addition, awareness events will take place throughout the country as well as seminars, and public speaking. Check the internet for an event near you.
If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who is feeling suicidal, please contact your nearest mental health agency or call 1-800-SUICIDE.
National Institute of Mental Health
American Association for Suicideology