September is national suicide prevention month. It’s designed to create awareness and prevent suicides.
But when it comes to suicides, the numbers are staggering. There are about twice as many suicides in the United States as there are homicides.
There are about 130 people who die by suicide each day.
“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. That’s top three among young adults and adolescents,” said Douglas Ruderfer, Ph.D., associate professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The rates of mental disorders linked to suicides are also on the rise. Studies show depression rates in the U.S. tripled in the early months of the pandemic and a study from Boston University found depression now affects one in three Americans.
“We know that depression is a major risk factor for a suicide attempt,” said Jooeun Kang, M.D, Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
But there are steps that can be taken to reduce this risk factor and others.
“That oftentimes just starts or can begin with telling someone, a friend, a family member or a doctor, that you are, in fact, struggling,” said Rudefer.
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And if you know someone who is struggling, you don’t have to wait until they talk to you.
Be sensitive and ask them direct questions, such as “are you thinking about hurting yourself?” Or “do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?”
Studies show talking about suicide decreases rather than increases their risk for suicide. Also, encourage them to speak to a mental health professional and never promise to keep someone’s suicidal thoughts a secret.