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The Tragedy of Suicide: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

by Cecelia Cody

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 44,000 suicide deaths are reported each year, one every 13 seconds (800,000 annually worldwide). It is estimated there are 25 attempts for every suicide death. The national cost of suicide is over $51 billion annually. Each death has a ripple effect impacting friends and loved ones. With more education, prevention and treatments, some of these lives could be saved.

What can we as “protectors of all life” do to stem this tide of unfortunate deaths? Education – Treatment – Prevention. The more people educated about suicide prevention, the more lives that will be saved.

The first step is being aware and alert…. Know the warning signs. Have you noticed any of the following:

  1. Dramatic mood changes. Is your friend restless, not eating, not able to sleep?

  2. Withdrawal from friends, family and community. Also giving away their precious belongings.

  3. Expressions of having no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life; saying things like: “It would be better if I weren’t here,” or “I want out.”

  4. Has your family member been diagnosed with depression, bi-polar, or perhaps is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disease (22 military personnel, active and retired commit suicide every day, and the suicide rate of post-abortive women is 6 times higher than for women who gave birth.)

  5. Often talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide. 75% of suicide victim share their plans.

BE AWARE! Take seriously any comments your friend makes or concerns you have. Do not be sworn to secrecy… seek out the support of appropriate professionals. Get help if you have concerns!

“Ask the Questions.” Call a hotline if you would like guidance on how to best address your concerns. Questions to ask might include:

  1. Have you been feeling like you’re a burden?

  2. Do you feel isolated and or disconnected?

  3. Are you experiencing the feeling of being trapped?

  4. Have you been drinking or taken any drugs or medications?

  5. Are you considering hurting yourself, or committing suicide? Do you have a plan?

  6. Ask whatever questions you feel need to be asked.

Many people are afraid to ask the questions, fearing they will “plant a seed” However many people are crying out silently for help, hungering for someone to care, someone to ask them a question.

Another avenue of education is to read books by those touched by suicide, depression and other mental illness. .

  1. In her book His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina. Danielle Steele, popular women’s author, shares the story of her son who committed suicide.

  2. In Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness Pulitzer prize winning author William Styron tells the story of his own descent and recovery, laying bare the harrowing realities of clinical depression and chronicling his triumph over the disease that had claimed so many great writers before him. His final words are a call for hope to all who suffer from mental illness that it is possible to emerge from even the deepest abyss of despair and “once again behold the stars.”

Prevention: In an acute crisis call 911, or take the person to an emergency room or walk in clinic or call a mobile crisis service if one is available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Or text TALK to 741-741

Another easy number to remember 1-800-SUICIDE

Be Aware – Ask the Question – Know the resources available…. Human Life is Precious – Together we must work to protect it.

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