It’s okay to talk about suicide

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September is Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 31% since 2001. Thirty-one percent! Those facts alone should be reason enough for us to talk about it. Yet, we hesitate when it comes to any kind of mental health issue. Give us our high blood pressure, cancer, psoriasis, anemia, asthma, or migraine and we will talk about it all day. But depression, thoughts of suicide - not so much. We are embarrassed and afraid to talk about it, which is why it often goes unacknowledged and untreated. And why the suicide rate continues to climb. Identifying the problem is step one, doing something about it is next. This is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to become aware of the causes and signs of suicide and the mental health issues that lead to it. Forty-six percent of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals. That means someone was aware of the potential of suicide but nothing was done to stop it. These warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may need help:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;

• Looking for a way to kill oneself;

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;

• Talking about being a burden to others;

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;

• Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;

• Sleeping too little or too much;

• Withdrawing or feeling isolated;

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and

• Displaying extreme mood swings. We should all be aware of these warning signs AND take action on behalf of ourselves or someone else by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 911, where help is available.

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