As sui­cide in­creases in the U.S., ed­u­ca­tion is crit­i­cal to pre­ven­tion

The Standard Journal - - LIFESTYLE - By Me­lanie Dal­las LPC

The re­cent sui­cides of de­signer Kate Spade and chef An­thony Bour­dain were a shock­ing re­minder that no one is im­mune from cir­cum­stances that might cause them to con­sider sui­cide. Sadly, their deaths are part of a dra­matic in­crease in sui­cide in the U.S., a trend af­fect­ing ev­ery seg­ment of so­ci­ety.

But what is caus­ing this trend? And more im­por­tant, what can be done?

In 2000, the band U2 re­leased a song called “Stuck In A Mo­ment You Can’t Get Out Of.” The song was a trib­ute to Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of pop/rock band INXS, who had died by sui­cide in 1997.

In an in­ter­view with Rolling Stone about why he wrote the song, U2’s Bono said, “I just knew that if Michael had hung around an ex­tra half an hour, he would have been OK.” At the time, Bono may not have re­al­ized how true his com­ment was.

Al­though many believe sui­cide is caused by men­tal ill­ness, a new re­port by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion shows that is of­ten not the case. In fact, the CDC re­ports that of the thou­sands of U.S. sui­cides it stud­ied from 1999 to 2016, more than half did not have a known men­tal health con­di­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, other prob­lems of­ten con­trib­ute to sui­cide, such as those re­lated to re­la­tion­ships, sub­stance use, phys­i­cal health, and job, money, le­gal or hous­ing stress. This is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber.

But the CDC’s most tragic find­ing is how much sui­cide has in­creased in the U.S. over the past two decades: sui­cides have risen nearly 30 per­cent since 1999, and have in­creased in ev­ery U.S. state ex­cept Nevada. Ge­or­gia has seen an in­crease of more than 16 per­cent.

The study also found sui­cide in­creased among both all racial and eth­nic groups, and al­most ev­ery age group. With nearly 45,000 sui­cides in 2016 alone, sui­cide has be­come the 10th lead­ing cause of death in the U.S. and the se­cond lead­ing cause of death for teenagers.

Al­though we know men­tal ill­ness is not al­ways linked to sui­cide, we also know sev­eral of the fac­tors that can in­crease the risk for sui­cide – iso­la­tion, in­creased anx­i­ety, hope­less­ness, among oth­ers – can also in­crease the risk of men­tal ill­ness.

Like­wise, we know those fac­tors which can re­duce sui­cide risk, such as fam­ily and com­mu­nity sup­port, ad­e­quate liv­ing re­sources and ac­cess to health­care ser­vices, are also pro­tec­tive of men­tal health and can help in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness find re­cov­ery.

We also know there is no sim­ple so­lu­tion. All of the fac­tors that af­fect sui­cide and men­tal health risk, for bet­ter or worse, in­volve com­mu­ni­ties, their res­i­dents and com­mu­nity in­sti­tu­tions such as schools, churches, health­care providers, emer­gency ser­vices, so­cial ser­vice agen­cies, fam­i­lies and many oth­ers.

A vi­tal com­po­nent of course is sui­cide pre­ven­tion ed­u­ca­tion – be­cause sui­cide is al­most al­ways pre­ventable. This won’t solve the prob­lem, but it is a crit­i­cal re­source for com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als.

High­land Rivers Health of­fers many sui­cide pre­ven­tion re­sources, in­clud­ing a no-cost sui­cide pre­ven­tion train­ing that can be pro­vided on­site at busi­nesses, schools, churches, com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions or al­most any­where else.

We also work with com­mu­nity part­ners across our ser­vice area to pro­vide men­tal health ser­vices in schools and com­mu­nity lo­ca­tions, and with local sui­cide pre­ven­tion coali­tions. (Learn more at high­landriver­shealth.com/sui­cide-pre­ven­tion.)

There are sui­cide pre­ven­tion hot­lines available for in­di­vid­u­als that might be con­sid­er­ing sui­cide. The Ge­or­gia Cri­sis and Ac­cess Line can be reached at (800) 715-4225, and the na­tional Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line is available at (800) 273-TALK; both are available 24 hours a day.

There is al­ways hope. By work­ing to­gether as par­ents, providers and com­mu­nity mem­bers, we can help peo­ple who might be con­sid­er­ing sui­cide, and en­sure that no one be­comes stuck in a mo­ment they can’t get out of.

Me­lanie Dal­las is a li­censed pro­fes­sional coun­selor and CEO of High­land Rivers Health, which pro­vides treat­ment and re­cov­ery ser­vices for in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness, sub­stance use dis­or­ders, and in­tel­lec­tual and devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in a 12-county re­gion of north­west Ge­or­gia that in­cludes Bar­tow, Chero­kee, Floyd, Fan­nin, Gilmer, Gor­don, Har­al­son, Mur­ray, Pauld­ing, Pick­ens, Polk and Whit­field coun­ties.

In­vi­sion-Chris Pizzello)

Food writer Hadley Tomicki, of Los An­ge­les, is ac­com­pa­nied by his daugh­ter Kira, 1, as he takes a pic­ture of a new mu­ral of the late chef An­thony Bour­dain, cre­ated by artist Jonas Never last Mon­day on a side wall of the new restau­rant Gramercy in Santa...

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