Suicide has been an ongoing national issue for decades. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides us with three distinct definitions to keep in mind when discussing suicide. They define suicide as a “death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.” A suicide attempt is described as a “self-directed” act or behavior with the intent to cause injury but may not result in injury.
Suicidal ideations are often experienced by many, more often than we think. Suicidal ideation also, according to the NIMH, refers to thoughts of or serious consideration of suicide. In many cases, ideation turns into an attempt. In contrast, at certain times, the idea comes and goes depending on several factors, including struggles with other mental illnesses or the influence of drugs and alcohol. One thing is for sure; many more individuals are often experiencing all sorts of troubles, most of which happen behind closed doors. It is important to preface any conversations revolving around suicide with compassion, empathy, and kindness.
Suicide Rates Throughout the United States
The NIMH gathered research obtained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that reported suicide as the tenth leading cause of death in 2019. The NIMH has also reported these facts:
- Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the US, claiming the lives of more than 47,500 people.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death for those between 35 and 44.
- The number of deaths by suicide, 47,511, was two and half times more than homicide, which was 19,141.
To learn more about these facts or read them directly from the NIMH, you can visit their website. To learn more about suicide prevention, you can head over to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more information or resources.
Suicide Mortality Rate in California
According to Let’s Get Healthy California, there is double the number of deaths by suicide than there are homicides in the state of California, with suicide rates continually increasing over the past ten years. They describe suicide as a major health concern in California that can have both “immediate and long-term impacts on individuals, families, and entire communities.” Many of the effects they report can be long-lasting. According to their website, some of these include:
- Changes in family structure
- Lack of household income
- Long-term chronic diseases
- Intensified struggles with other psychological disorders
Here are some more facts provided by Let’s Get Healthy California regarding the suicide rates throughout the state:
- There were 4,323 suicides in California back in 2017.
- For every 4,000 deaths by suicide, there were about 34,000 visits to the emergency room for self-inflicted injuries.
- California’s rates are lower than the national rate, with the California suicide rate at 10.7, while the nation’s rate is 13.4.
- And again, suicide rates have increased in California mainly within the past decade, doubling the rate of homicide.
What We Can Do
Suicide has remained one of the top 20 leading causes of death every year across the globe for decades. The struggle with this global epidemic is that it is extremely difficult to prevent. There are several reasons that might put someone at a higher risk of suicide, including biological and psychological factors. The NIH has some suggestions to prevent the continued increase of suicide rates; however, the most important is education. In general, that includes:
- Learning the warning signs of suicidal ideation
- Being able to identify behaviors that might lead to attempts of suicide
- Knowing what resources someone can turn to and how to help individuals struggling in a way that’s beneficial to them.
After people become educated regarding the matter, there is one other way we may be able to decrease the rate of suicide not only in California but across the nation. That “method” would be practicing acts of kindness and compassion. The danger of suicide and any other mental or psychological issue is that it often has no physical symptoms. Anyone you pass on the street could be struggling with suicidal ideation, thinking of hurting themselves, or seriously considering suicide. What if something as simple as a smile could completely change their mind about that decision to hurt themselves.
By showing kindness and compassion to everyone we encounter, we may be able to give them a glimmer of hope that the next day may be better than today.
Suicide has been one of the leading causes of death among Americans for decades. While the numbers may often differ depending on factors including age, gender, or race, the fact of the matter is that it is an ongoing epidemic that can genuinely affect all people. The scariest thing is there are sometimes no warning signs that someone you know and may even love is struggling with suicidal ideation, or worse yet, even actively planning a suicide attempt. In addition, these suicidal thoughts can be detrimental to those dealing with many other mental or psychological disorders, including struggles with addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, thoughts of suicide, or has attempted suicide in the past, the best thing you can do is educate yourself, know what resources you can utilize, and treat your loved one with kindness. To learn more, call the Lakehouse at (877) 762-3707 today.