Article Submitted from The Council on Substance Abuse- NCADD
Montgomery, AL– September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to promoting public awareness about suicide prevention and informing communities about available resources to aid persons coping with a suicide crisis. Individuals, organizations, and communities nationwide use collaborative efforts to help save lives.
Suicide is a serious issue that affects families nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness. A number of other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- Family history of suicide
- Substance abuse, intoxication
- Access to firearms
- Serious or chronic medical illness
- History of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- Isolation, age
- Recent tragedy or loss
- Agitation and sleep deprivation
In Alabama, 84 youth suicides occurred in 2012, and more than 80% were males of all races. The most common and most lethal method of suicide is by using firearms. The most recent U.S. data (2012) showed that 50.9% of suicides used firearms. During 2012 in Alabama 68% of suicides used guns. The use of a gun almost always guarantees a fatal outcome.
The suicide rate among black youth has been increasing significantly. A 2015 study from the CDC found that for the first time, the suicide rate of black children in between the ages of 5 and 11 had doubled between 1993 and 2013 — while the rate among white children had declined. Suicides by hanging nearly tripled among black boys in particular.
The CDC also found that suicide is the third cause of death among African-American males between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidents. Also, suicide death rates among Black men are five times that of Black women.
Moreover, drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that intensify suicidal thoughts. Research suggests that more than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence and people under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
Statistics from The American Federation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) show that the annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 12.93 per 100,000 individuals. On average, there are 117 suicides per day while firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides. In addition, men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. Statistics from AFSP also show that White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2014. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.
According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), warning signs of suicide include threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous. Other warning signs may include increased alcohol and drug use, aggressive behavior, social withdrawal from friends, family and the community, dramatic mood swings, talking, writing or thinking about death, and impulsive or reckless behavior.
It is a fact that mental health affects everyone regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Statistics from NAMI show that approximately 1 in 5 adults (18.5%) in the U.S. experience mental illness. Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in the U.S live with a mental illness. One- half of all chronic illness begins by the age 14, three- quarters by the age of 24.
There are many ways to participate in National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month including:
- Sharing information with family, friends, and co-workers
- Educating yourself by learning about the warning signs of suicide and how it can be prevented.
- Creating a crisis plan just in case you have a family or friend who may be having suicidal thoughts
If you are concerned about suicide and don’t know what to do, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They have trained counselors available 24/7 to speak with either you or your loved one.
For more information about National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month visit www.nami.org
The mission of COSA-NCADD is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of the disease of alcoholism, other drug addiction diseases, and related problems. For more information about COSA- NCADD call 334-262-1629 or visit www.cosancadd.org