facebook September is National Suicide Prevention Month

By Dr. Jeanne Dickens, psychiatrist with the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center

With the number of suicides in the United States soaring in recent years and with September being National Suicide Prevention Month, this is a good time to take a look at what can be done to slow this tragic epidemic plaguing our country. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates in the U.S. are at their highest level since World War II due to numerous factors including the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress. 

A recent analysis by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in 2017 declared that 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide, and that’s a 33 percent increase since 1999, and the highest age-adjusted suicide rate recorded in the U.S. since 1942.

So let’s review some of the more common warning signs of suicide and what to do when you recognize them in yourself or someone else. 

Whenever symptoms of depression include strong thoughts of despair and hopelessness, a child, adolescent or adult is possibly at greater risk for suicide. Be watchful for behaviors, comments or social media posts that indicate an individual is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of their future.

Sudden unexplained happiness taking place after a prolonged period of sadness may also be a suicide warning sign. 

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say something. The answer is always yes, and the sooner the better.

Initiate a conversation and listen to their feelings. Giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt. Allow the individual the opportunity to express despair and anger. No matter how negative they are in expressing themselves, the fact that the conversation is taking place is a positive.

Make sure they know how important they are to you, but don't believe you can keep them from hurting themselves on your own. Tell the individual that his or her life is important to you and many others, and reassure them that help is available.

The Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center welcomes patients of all ages with a philosophy of providing community-centered care and treatment by utilizing the best practices resulting from ongoing research and medical advancements. 

As always, please call 911 for any emergency situation. If you have a mental health emergency, please call 317.880.8485. If you have concerns or questions about your health, the health of someone in your family or are in need of a primary care physician for yourself or someone else, please call 317.880.7666 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.

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