Awareness of warning signs can help reduce risk of suicide
Would you be able to see the warning signs if someone you know may be contemplating taking their own life? Community Mental Health Center, Inc., 285 Bielby Road, Lawrenceburg, wants the community to know that suicide can be prevented and that the consequences of such an event to an individual’s family and friends, and the community at large, can be devastating. One of the keys to prevention is to recognize the warning signs so you can assist others in getting help they may need.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, marked every September, brings focus to a challenge that has continued to grow throughout our country in recent years. Everyone can play a role in being aware and reaching out to friends and families to help those who may be contemplating suicide.
For the year 2015 nationally, there were 44,193 deaths by suicide, which calculates to a rate of 12.93 per 100,000 people, based on the national population of about 319 million individuals. In 2015, the State of Indiana recorded 960 deaths by suicide, a rate of 14.4 per 100,000 based on Indiana’s 2015 population of nearly 7 million, ranking Indiana as the state with the 28th highest rate of suicides per 100,000 people and placing the state about a point and a half above the national average. On average, one person dies by suicide every nine hours in Indiana. These statistics can be found on the websites of both the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Suicide is a tragic, far-reaching occurrence. Being aware of the signs of a potential suicidal person can truly save a life,” said CMHC Executive Director Tom Talbot.
“What we know is that treatment works. Our task is to get the suicidal person in contact with treatment providers,” said Mr. Talbot.
According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death in Indiana for individuals ages 10 through 14, the second leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 34, the fourth leading cause of death for those ages 35 through 54, the 10th leading cause of death for individuals ages 55 through 64, and the 17th leading cause of death for individuals 65 years old or older. Suicide cost Indiana a total of more than $1 billion of combined lifetime medical and work loss in 2010, or an average of about $1.1 million per suicide death. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Indiana annually than by homicide; the total deaths to suicide reflect a total of 20,353 years of potential life lost before age 65.
A recent media story in Southeastern Indiana highlighted a report by the Dearborn County Coroner indicating there had been 11 confirmed or suspected suicide in the first half of Calendar Year 2017 (January through June). The report noted there were 12 suicides in all of 2016, six in 2015, and four in 2014 and 2013. The story also noted the fact that a number of these deaths likely were related to substance use. This brings home the fact that the problem is real in Southeastern Indiana.
The American Association of Suicidology has said that suicide is significantly related to diagnosable and treatable mental disorders. Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.
One of the keys to suicide prevention is to know the warning signs of someone who may be considering a suicide attempt. These may include: talking about suicide, death, or having no reason to live; being preoccupied with death and dying; expressing a sense of helplessness; withdrawal from friends and/or social activities; drastic changes in behavior, including mood swings and increased anger; giving away possessions, and an increase in use of alcohol or drugs. Warning signs of acute risk include: threatening to hurt or kill him or herself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him or herself; looking for ways to kill him or herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means of harm, and talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
To help someone who may be considering suicide, be aware of these signs and get involved with helping the person. Be willing to listen to what the person has to say, but don’t be judgmental or debate with the person. Talking about suicide does not cause someone to become suicidal. Seek support for the person, offer hope that alternatives are available, and take action to remove potential means of suicide and by contacting individuals and/or agencies who specialize in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
An organization called the QPR Institute has developed an effective model for helping individuals who are having suicidal crises. QPR stands for “Question-Persuade-Refer” and describes the three steps used in the model to assist individuals in getting through an immediate crisis and in receiving assistance as quickly as possible. You can learn more about QPR by visiting the organization’s website at www.qprinstitute.com.
Many times, the simple offering of hope and social and spiritual support can avert a suicide attempt entirely.
“Everyone has the potential to be a life-saver. Be aware. Get involved. If not you, whom? If not now, when? You can make a difference,” said Mr. Talbot.
CMHC provides crisis intervention services at its Main Center in Lawrenceburg. The Center also offers crisis intervention services utilizing a 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-849-1248 and an on-call crisis system. For more information, contact CMHC at (812) 537-1302, or go to our website at www.cmhcinc.org to find an office near you.
All CMHC services are provided without regard to race, religion, disability, gender, color, age, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political belief, status as a veteran, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.