We learned earlier this year that suicide rates have risen drastically since 1999. In that time period, suicide rates increased 25% in the US. Shockingly, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in 2016. Currently, suicide is the tenth cause of death in the US.Preventing SuicideFollowing up on this information, as well as the upsetting suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the Chicago Tribune posted an article, “Are Suicides Really Preventable.” In this article, Gracie Bonds Staples (interestingly enough, a contributor for the AJC) explained that according to her recent review of data, what we are doing to prevent suicide isn’t effective
This is discouraging news, to say the least. From the explanation of the data, it is almost impossible to predict (and therefore prevent) if a person will attempt suicide. Providing timely, effective interventions is what every mental health clinician and emergency resource strives for, but this seems not to be enough. One study found that over 75% of those who die by suicide , denied having any suicidal thoughts or intentions in their last communications.
How to Really Prevent Suicide
There are a variety of opinions and ongoing clinical research about what could help prevent future suicides. Clinicians have studied/are studying the ideas of changing public policy to reduce the availability of guns, reducing access to dangerous medications, and even erecting fences around certain areas.* Let us not be afraid to demand larger, community-wide, government-backed ways to prevent suicide. The work clinicians, friends, family members, church families, and others do to prevent suicide matters, but we need more.
And In The Meantime…
We will continue to do what we do. The clinical social workers at Mindful Transitions are trained in suicide assessments and preventative strategies with our clients. We continue to help our clients build resiliency, to cope with stressors, and to create functioning social networks. We share our training with other elder care professionals, and we advocate for changes at the state and local levels.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help:
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor
Find more resources at: https://www.speakingofsuicide.
*Miller M, Lippmann SJ, Azrael D, Hemenway D. Household firearm ownership and rates of suicide across the 50 United States. J Trauma. 2007 Apr; 62(4):1029-34; discussion 1034-5.
*Klieve H, Barnes M, De Leo D. Controlling firearms use in Australia: has the 1996 gun law reform produced the decrease in rates of suicide with this method?. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 2009; 44: 285-292.
*Zalsman, G, Hawton, K, Wasserman, D, van Heeringen, K, Arensman, E, Sarchiapone, M, Carli, V, Höschl, C, Barzilay, R, Balazs, J, Purebl, G, Kahn, JP, Sáiz, P, Lipsicas, CB, Bobes, J, Cozman, D, Hegerl, U, Zohar, J. Suicide prevention strategies revisited: 10-year systematic review. The lancet. Psychiatry, ISSN: 2215-0374, Vol: 3, Issue: 7, Page: 646-59