Suicide affects millions; over 800,000 people take their lives each year, and the number of people who attempt suicide is twenty five times that amount. In addition to the lives lost, suicide also affects the many friends and family members devastated by the loss of their loved one.
Suicide is largely preventable though. Through education and awareness, we can get those people who are contemplating suicide the help they need.
One of the best tools in preventing suicide is to know the risk factors. Over 90% of people who attempt suicide live with depression or another mental disorder. Alcohol or substance abuse is often a contributing factor. Adverse reactions to traumatic events or stress can also lead to someone wanting to take their own life.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Someone who is considering suicide usually displays certain behaviors. Loved ones should look for the following warning signs:
Always talking or thinking about death
Trouble sleeping and eating — that gets worse over time
Displaying reckless behavior that could result in death, such as driving fast or running red lights
Losing interest in things one used to care about
Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
Talking about suicide or killing one’s self
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
If someone you know appears to be contemplating suicide, take the issue seriously. Let the person know that you care and understand and are listening and attempt to get them immediate help from a health care professional.
If your loved one appears to be in imminent danger of committing suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Remove any weapons or drugs he or she could use. Accompany him or her to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
September 10 has been designated World Suicide Prevention Day. Many organizations from around the world have joined this cause. Flushing Hospital’s supports their efforts and the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry offers many inpatient and outpatient services to help those in need.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.