Photo: Getty
  /  09.07.2022

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and REVOLT is dedicated to extending information to aid community resources and safety. Firstly, it may be helpful to dissect language during National Suicide Prevention Week, as much of what is commonly used carries derogatory inferences.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) clarifies introductory terminology accordingly: “Suicide is when people harm themselves with the goal of ending their life, and they die as a result. A suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the goal of ending their life, but they do not die.” Added adjectives such as “committed” or “failed” when examining the experiences of those in crisis have the potential to medically deter the healing process of people overcoming grief or working toward mental wellness. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Suicide is rarely caused by a single circumstance or event. Instead, a range of factors — at the individual, relationship, community, and societal levels — can increase risk. These risk factors are situations or problems that can increase the possibility that a person will attempt suicide.”

Said characteristics may include but are not limited to elements of navigating as a person of low socioeconomic status or experiencing addiction, mental health concerns, loss of a loved one, or varied traumas, such as emotional abuse and so forth. New York State’s Office of Mental Health and its Suicide Prevention Center’s website list risk factors associated with suicide resultantly:

  • Family history of suicide or child maltreatment

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)

  • Mental [disorders], particularly clinical depression

  • Alcohol or other drug misuse

  • Physical illness and chronic pain

  • Hopelessness, impulsiveness, aggressiveness

  • Local epidemics of suicide

  • Isolation

  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment

  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)

  • Easy access to lethal methods

  • Unwillingness to seek help due to stigma

In a recent study, The Jed Foundation (JED), a non-profit organization with efforts to assist emotional health and prevent suicide, confirmed suicide as the second leading cause of death among young adults. JED also reported that “… for every youth suicide, it is estimated that 100 to 200 others attempt suicide … [in] a time when many people experience significant stress from life transitions such as … moving from home and beginning college or a career. That stress has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While suicide rates are lower among marginalized identities than those of privilege, The New York Times confirms Black communities, on average, have less access to mental health solutions. “Because of pervasive racism, Black Americans experience substantial stress, fewer opportunities for advancement and more threats to well-being. These negative experiences can degrade mental and physical health, as well as limit education, employment and income — all of which can increase suicide risk,” the newspaper wrote. While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for navigating depression and other mental health obstacles, vulnerable communities can analyze the facts near therapeutic objectives.

Further, when examining trends in suicide rates, The Journal of the American Medical Association (or JAMA Network) observed that the “increase in Black and Asian or Pacific Islander youth suicide rates are worrisome. Efforts are needed to mitigate suicide and its risk factors in population subgroups, which may include systemic and other factors that have placed increased stress on individuals who belong to racial/ethnic minority groups.” Trailing behind these minority rates are those of the Latinx ethnicity.

ATrain Education, an organization which consists of medical professionals, editors, researchers, and writers, published, “Among youth and young adults, the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behavior increases among [Latinxs] who are more acculturated to mainstream American culture.” Suicide is a global concern. Due to a myriad of contributing factors, the World Health Organization (WHO) cannot point to one individual cause. However, WHO documented:

“Globally, the availability and quality of data on suicide and suicide attempts is poor. Only some 80 member states have good-quality vital registration data that can be used directly to estimate suicide rates. This problem of poor-quality mortality data is not unique to suicide, but given the sensitivity of suicide — and the illegality of suicidal behaviour in some countries — it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.”

Moreover, WHO established that “… around 20 percent of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning … Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.” In removing stigmas associated with discussing mental health, communities are more inclined to find solutions preceding anyone reaching a point of crisis. There are potential warning signs that someone you know may not feel like their best self.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) published, “Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change.” In an effort to simplify complex emotions, the voluntary health organization listed verbal mentions to be mindful of, including but not limited to someone discussing:

  • Killing themselves

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Having no reason to live

  • Being a burden to others

  • Feeling trapped

  • Unbearable pain

However, according to the AFSP, those in crisis may not know how to express or process their feelings. Sometimes people display other warning signs (behaviorally) indicating they need help, such as:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

  • Withdrawing from activities

  • Isolating from family and friends

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Aggression

  • Fatigue

When people have a support system or experience common courtesy, they are less likely to seek what is sometimes viewed as an escape or a form of self-harm. The well-being news site WebMD added to the contemporary dialogue by reporting, “Suicide can’t be prevented with certainty, but risks can often be reduced with timely intervention. Research suggests that the best way to prevent suicide is to know the risk factors, be alert to the signs of depression and other mental disorders, recognize the warning signs for suicide, and intervene before the person can complete the process of self-destruction.” Prioritizing decisions that protect you and your headspace medically heightens the emotional probability of being in good standing.

Sources:

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/national-suicide-prevention-awareness-month

https://www.preventsuicideny.org/

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior

https://sprc.org/scope/racial-ethnic-disparities

https://988lifeline.org/promote-national-suicide-prevention-month/

https://www.devereux.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=suicide_prevention_awareness_month

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/feeling-suicidal/suicidal-warning-signs

https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0913-6

https://www.centerforanxiety.org/dbt/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw08aYBhDlARIsAA_gb0dltv_96v3__ENgrPkCBecGiIIPKJNC_iUl0R2um6DUHSMHMu3NjcMaAnJPEALw_wcB

https://afsp.org/risk-factors-protective-factors-and-warning-signs

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2780380

https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/factors/index.html

https://jedfoundation.org/suicide-prevention-awareness-month-2021/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq#:~:text=The%20main%20risk%20factors%20for,Chronic%20pain

https://988lifeline.org/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368415/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/upshot/suicide-demographic-differences.html?auth=login-google1tap&login=google1tap

https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/brief-interventions-for-alcohol-and-other-drug-use#:~:text=Brief%20interventions%20essentially%20include%20screening,harms%20associated%20with%20risky%20use.

https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/04/12/14/45/low-socioeconomic-status-found-to-be-a-critical-risk-factor-across-the-globe

https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/5-warning-signs-of-suicidal-behavior-that-are-easy-to-miss/

https://www.preventsuicideny.org/risk-factors-associated-with-suicide/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/05/30/military-suicide-women-sexual-assault-ptsd/

https://www.chcs.org/resource/the-collaborative-care-model-an-approach-for-integrating-physical-and-mental-health-care-in-medicaid-health-homes/

https://www.atrainceu.com/content/3-suicide-race-and-ethnicity-0

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8155821/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide

https://sprc.org/scope/racial-ethnic-disparities

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

https://jasonfoundation.com/get-involved/suicide-prevention-month/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048

https://www.crisistextline.org/

https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/disparities-in-suicide.html

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/suicidal-feelings/causes-of-suicidal-feelings/

https://www.hftd.org/nspamp

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11352-recognizing-suicidal-behavior

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior

https://www.defense.gov/Spotlights/Suicide-Prevention/

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior

https://www.retreatbehavioralhealth.com/suicide/

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