Suicide: A Growing Epidemic

Across the United States, suicide rates have been steadily increasing since 1999. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of suicide has increased by at least 30% between 1999 and 2016. In 2016 alone, an estimated 45,000 people killed themselves. The suicide crisis has serious repercussions for society and especially for the victims of suicide and the loved ones left behind.

The Risk Factors

It is important to know the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. A primary risk factor is chronic depression. Jack J Wu, MD illustrates the 5 signs of depression so that family and friends can more easily recognize it and get help for the people closest to them. This knowledge can be very empowering and lead to intervention.

People under the age of 24 and over 65 are at increased risk, as are people with a family history of suicide. People with serious medical conditions are also at increased risk of suicide, as are those who are substance abusers. Those who have endured abuse or trauma in their lives are more likely than others to take their own life. Perhaps surprisingly, men are four times more likely to follow through even though women are more likely to attempt suicide. Chronic stress and feelings of isolation are also notable risk factors.

The Warning Signs

When people threaten or make comments about killing themselves, this is known as suicidal ideation. These should be taken seriously. People may increase their consumption of alcohol or other substances or become more socially withdrawn. They may demonstrate aggressive, impulsive, or reckless behavior or experience mood swings.

Prevention Is Possible

There are different approaches to treatment for chronic depression and suicidal ideation. Some forms of cognitive and behavioral therapy have shown promise. Professional counseling by itself can offer the emotional support and validation that can be so important to a person who may be feeling hopeless and isolated in their depression. In addition, psychotherapists may offer to teach valuable coping skills. Psychopharmaceuticals may help when used in conjunction with any of these therapies to treat the underlying anxiety or depression.

Help is available for family members and victims suffering from depression and suicidal ideation. One of the key considerations is awareness of the risk factors and being able to recognize the warning signs. Getting the necessary help as soon as these warning signs become apparent can be crucial in preventing suicide.

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