The more you know, the more your can help
National Suicide Prevention Month is in September, but with statistics showing incidents of self-inflicted death on the rise, there's no better time than the present to highlight measures to prevent suicide.
In the United States, 47,173 people reportedly died by suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in 2017. Today, 129 Americans will die by suicide, again tomorrow, the next day, and the day after, until effective preventative measures are taken to curb the epidemic.
Fortunately, not all suicide attempts will succeed. In total, an estimated 1.3 million adults attempt suicide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Younger people are more prone to committing suicide. CDC tracking also found that it was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14, 15-24 and 25-34. Those numbers dipped with age, becoming the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35-44; 8th for people ages 55-64, and failing to register in the top 10 for people ages 65 and older.
Men are overwhelmingly more likely than women to die by their own hand, ending their own lives at a rate 3.54 times higher than their female counterparts, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. White males accounted for approximately 78 percent of suicide deaths in 2017, and is highest among middle-aged men.
Another vulnerable population is America's veterans, according to the US Veterans' Administration (VA). The VA recently produced a video detailing the risk of suicide among the veterans it serves.
"In the military you take challenges head on, now it's your turn to do the same for our veterans, be there," it urged the public.
The 30 second public service announcement accompanies a nationwide social media campaign utilizing the hashtag #BeThere.
New York State, however, logged the lowest rate of suicide, logging 8.11 per 100,000 in 2017. That number was thought to be falling in 2018, with initial figures indicating 1,679 deaths, or 8.08 per 100,000, bucking the national trend.
In most instances, victims chose suicide by gun. In 2017, firearms accounted for 50.57 percent of all suicide deaths. Suffocation (27.7 percent) and poisoning (13.9 percent) followed.
New York State recently passed the "Red Flag Bill" aimed in part at curbing gun-related deaths. It allows school officials, family members and police officers to seek a court order blocking someone from purchasing or possessing firearms if they pose an "extreme risk" to themselves or others. A judge would then decide whether or not to enforce such an order.
"The United States loses more people to gun deaths than most developed nations. The first year of President Trump's administration, we lost 40,000 people to gun deaths - the highest number in 50 years. New York led the way by passing the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, but more must be done to end this carnage," Governor Cuomo said upon signing the bill on Feb. 25. "The Red Flag Bill will save lives and doesn't infringe on anybody's rights and it is common sense."
Other measures include an extended waiting period, requiring people to pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check System before being allowed to purchase a gun and allow for up to 10 days of investigation prior to purchase — otherwise known as a "cooling off period."
In addition to keeping someone at risk from obtaining the means of their demise, the American Psychiatric Association says that suicide is preventable in cases where risk factors and warning signs can be recognized in time. For example, those who have previously attempted suicide, have a history of suicide in their family, have substance abuse problems, suffer from mood disorders, experience devastating events, have suffered trauma, abuse and chronic illness may be at risk.
Warning signs of suicide include talking or writing about death, making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless, withdrawal from friends, family or the community, reckless behavior, dramatic mood changes, and talk of being a burden to others.
If you, or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), the line is free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org