Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased by nearly 30 percent since 1999. The latest figures show that approximately 45,000 Americans killed themselves in 2016. Anne Schuchat, M.D and Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has spoken of the impact that suicide has in America:
“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country. From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”
Are All Suicides Connected to Mental Health Conditions?
A recent study by the CDC showed that 54 percent of those who committed suicide were not known to have a mental health condition. The most common circumstances contributing to suicide are relationships, substance use, health, and job or financial problems.
While figures have been increasing year-on-year in most states, some states have been hit worse than others. Montana has the highest rate of suicide across the US, with veterans accounting for more than 20 percent. According to a New York Times article, states with the lowest suicide rates have stricter gun laws.
The latest figures from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline show that calls have doubled from 2014 to 2017. The lifeline has over 150 crisis centers, as well as backup centers, that answer the millions of calls it receives each year. And that number is rising. In 2017, the lifeline answered over 2 million calls – double the amount since 2014.
How Does The Media Contribute?
It is thought that the highly publicized suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have encouraged people to share on social media that suicide is not the answer and to instead reach out to loved ones and mental health professionals. Spokeswoman Frances Gonzalez told USA Today:
“Due to media events and increased public awareness of suicide prevention and the lifeline’s services, more people are aware of this resource and are getting help and support. The lifeline has been proven to de-escalate moments of crisis and help people find hope.”
While people are reaching out and the centers are able to provide help, we need more action.
As a country, we desperately need to increase access to resources, such as therapy, mental health services, financial support and counseling, and legal assistance. Individually, we can provide environments — at work, home, or socially — where people feel they can be heard, loved, and supported. We need to show fellow Americans that suicide is not the only option.
Additional Reading: 5 Reasons Addiction Often Leads to Suicide
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