At the end of this blog is a link to a Ted-X talk given by a young man who has attempted suicide on more than one occasion.  Please take a few moments to watch this video; it will change how you view suicide.  Share it with your loved ones, for it is a conversation that must be brought out in the open.

Here are some startling statistics about the prevalence of suicide in our country that you might not be aware of:

  • Over 38,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States.
  • Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 13.7 minutes in the United States.
  • Every day, approximately 105 Americans take their own life.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides for every suicide death.

Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression.  If you include depressed alcoholics into the equation, this figure rises to over 75 percent.  This is important because depression is a mental illness that has been proven to respond very well to a variety of therapeutic methods, including, but not limited to, psychotherapy, anti-depressants, nutrition, exercise, and meditation.  {To be clear, nutrition, exercise, & meditation are best utilized in conjunction with psychotherapy (and medication if necessary), not by themselves.}  The bottom line is, if we are taught to recognize the symptoms of depression and it is then properly diagnosed, we will successfully prevent many of these suicides, and attempted suicides, with proper treatment.

One of the issues with depression is that it is a common human experience, which makes it easy to minimize and overlook.  We all get depressed and feel hopeless at times, it’s part of life.  Depression becomes a clinical mental illness when it extends over a long period of time and when it is very intense.  The following are some symptoms of depression to be on the lookout for:

  • Feeling sad, lonely, or down.
  • Feeling excessively self critical, worthless.
  • Loss of self esteem.
  • Unexplained teariness or weeping.
  • Feeling tired, without energy, exhausted.
  • Changes in sleep patterns; i.e., insomnia, wanting to sleep too much or not at all.
  • Changes in eating patterns; i.e., eating too much or loss of appetite.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Feeling empty, hollow, lifeless, dead.
  • Disinterest in everything and anyone.
  • Irritability.
  • Concentration problems.
  • Vague complaints about bodily symptoms, e.g., backaches, headaches.
  • Decrease in communication.
  • Withdrawn behavior.
  • Highly agitated behavior (in an agitated depression).

Sources:  Loneliness, Depression & Suicide by Barry Greenwald, PhD

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