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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,069
April 7, 2021
Reducing Suicide Deaths
By Mike McManus

There is one death by suicide every 12 minutes in America. Suicides have risen by more than one-third since 1999. There were 48,344 deaths by suicide in 2019. Half killed themselves with firearms. Every day 123 Americans kill themselves.

Suicide is four times higher among males than females. It is the second major cause of death of those aged 15 to 24. Of 100,000 young adults aged 20-24, 12.7 will take their own lives. Among 100,000 youth aged 15 to 19, seven will kill themselves.

Suicide rates of males are highest among those over age 75. Most of these men are alone. They have lost their wives through death or divorce.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual kids are three times more likely than those who are straight to attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Some 41% of trans adults said they had attempted suicide.

Fortunately, there is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is connected to a national network of state and local crisis centers. It can be reached at any time, night or day with the toll-free number of 1-800 273 TALK or 8255. It is available in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454. There is even a number for LGBTQ youth: 1-866 488-7386.

An estimated 1.3 million American adults attempt suicide each year - a huge number - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide is often linked to mental disorders, particularly depression and alcohol abuse. The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

The most important single step that can be taken to prevent suicide is to remove any guns from the home. Guns in the home are dangerous (My father threatened my mother with a pistol when I was about 14. I took the weapon from his sock drawer and hid it in the rafters of our garage. He never found it.) She outlived him by three years.

A warning sign of a possible suicide is a statement by a person of having "no reason for living," or who may have no sense of purpose in life. Or he/she might say things like "It would be better if I wasn't here." Or "I want out." Another danger signal is an increased misuse of alcohol or drugs.

As with mental illness, one of the biggest barriers to prevent suicide is stigma, which prevents many people from seeking help.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and it identifies several strategies that states and communities can undertake, including such measures as teaching coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges, expanding options for temporary assistance for those in need and connecting people at-risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical health care.

Here are five tips from CDC for what you can do if you are concerned about a friend or loved one:

1.Ask someone you are worried about if they are thinking about suicide.

2.Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means (such as guns) for those at risk.

3.Be there for them. Listen to what they need.

4.Help them connect with ongoing support.

5.Stay connected. Follow up to see how they are doing.

I suggest that you put this National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number into your phone directory: 1-800-273-TALK or 8255).

Many suicides can be prevented - and you may be able to take the initiative that saves a life.



Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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