September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Every year, approximately 44,000 people die by suicide, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to a newly released study published in JAMA Psychiatry, suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise. Middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate and young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts. And, while suicide attempts were higher among women than men, more men completed suicide.
While suicide is preventable, it is a topic that many feel uncomfortable talking about, even with family and friends. It is important to know that family members, friends, coworkers and others can play an important role in recognizing when someone is at risk or in crisis and connect that person with the most appropriate sources of care. Here are the major warning signs to be aware of:
Signs of Acute Risk:
– Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
– Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
– Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary.
Expanded Warning Signs:
– Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
– No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
– Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
– Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
– Withdrawal from friends, family and society
– Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
– Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
– Dramatic mood changes
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month reminds us that suicide deaths can be prevented. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, for every one person who dies by suicide in the U.S., there are approximately 278 people who move past serious thoughts of suicide and nearly 60 who have survived a suicide attempt. The overwhelming majority of these people will go on to live out their lives.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or go to your nearest emergency room.
For more information about counseling and resources contact the EAP at 425-454-3003 or 1-800-648-5834.