Suicide has recently passed auto accidents as the leading cause of injury related death in the U.S. The age-adjusted suicide rate is 12 per 100,000, or roughly 37,000 Americans, per year. This equates to a person committing suicide every 13.7 minutes. The rate is has risen 15% over the past decade. It is the third leading cause of death for those aged 15-24.
Life is hard, and the times we live in aren’t making it any easier. The suicide rate has been increasing steadily since 2006. In 2009, 3.7% of the adult U.S. population reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year. For every 25 attempted suicides, one is successful. People between the ages of 40 and 59 have the highest suicide rate. Men are more likely to succeed at committing suicide than women, though women are more likely to make an attempt.
What can people do to help their loved ones deal with depression and thoughts of suicide? First of all, talking about it is crucial. Do not be afraid to broach the subject, as talking about it and providing a person to confide in can be the best help you can give. A suicidal person feels very alone, and having someone to express their feelings with earnestly can relieve a huge burden. Also, you should always take indications of suicidal thoughts seriously.
Make sure not to belittle their feelings. Even statements with good intention, such as, “look on the bright side,” can make a person feel worse. Try to be empathetic and get the person talking. You can ask questions like, “when did you start feeling like this?” Listening is more important than trying to give advice or offer a solution. If you do want to suggest the person seek help, asking them to see a general practitioner is a good step. They will be more willing to see a doctor they are familiar with, and the doctor can rule out any medical conditions that might be causing the feelings. They can also refer the person to a psychiatrist if necessary.
You also need to make sure that you are in good physical and mental health before you try to help someone else. If you are unable to help yourself, you will end up bringing a depressed person down further. Admitting that dealing with a depressed loved one is emotionally exhausting is not selfish. You need to accept your limitations, and try to do your best within them.
Encouraging the person to take part in activities can be a great help. Ask them to go see a funny movie, or have dinner at their favorite restaurant. Exercise is extremely helpful. Activity is the opposite of depression, so simply getting the blood and mind moving can have a positive effect.
If you feel the person is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call for help. There are many suicide prevention hotlines and if a person is attempting suicide, you should call an ambulance. Even if the person resents you for it, they will eventually understand. If you are going to lose a friend either way, you might as well save a life.
ABC News Suicides Replace Auto Crashes as Top Cause of Injury Death: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/suicides-replace-auto-crashes-top-injury-death/story?id=17329245
Medpage Today Suicides More Common than Traffic Deaths: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/34962
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Facts and Figures: http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=04ea1254-bd31-1fa3-c549d77e6ca6aa37
The CDC Suicide Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/
Help Guide Helping a Depressed Person: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/living_depressed_person.htm
Suicide in Georgia 2005: http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/prevention/SuicideinGeorgia2005.pdf
CDC Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss6013.pdf
Psych Central What to Do When You Think Someone is Suicidal: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/what-to-do-when-you-think-someone-is-suicidal/
Mind How to Support Someone Who is Suicidal: http://www.mind.org.uk/assets/0001/7299/How_to_support_someone_suicidal_2012.pdf
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/