Suicide rate at 30-year high in US; NIMH pushes for prevention

Suicide rate at 30-year high in US; NIMH pushes for prevention

Being consumed by depression is similar to being tormented by a long-lasting excruciating pain which drains energy levels. It is a dreadful situation wherein every thought is a battle and every breath is a war. As the French novelist George Sand states in his gothic novel of chivalry and romance: “We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire,” death is easier than living a painful life.

Jeremy Walter, a 54-year-old war veteran, had been leading a wretched life ever since he lost his wife and son in a car crash five years ago. Over a period of time, Walter’s life became increasingly unhappy, seriously out of balance. The traumatic experiences of the battlefield were magnified by the tragic loss of his loved ones leaving him inconsolable. Although alcohol provided a little respite in the beginning, it led to depression in the long run, triggering suicidal thoughts.

Walter isn’t alone in the struggle. In fact, a recently published report by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that suicides have reached the highest point in 30 years in the United States, with middle-aged Americans making up the largest part of the growing epidemic. “America’s suicide trend was on the decline during the early 90s, but since then the rates of self-destruction have skyrocketed to a 30-year high,” according to the 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In his recently released message, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director, Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., noted that nearly half of suicide victims used a firearm to kill themselves. “Many of these victims were veterans; 7,700 veterans died of suicide in 2014, two-thirds of them using a firearm. These data suggest that lives could be saved by reducing access to lethal means in at-risk individuals,” Gordon said.

Aiming for zero suicide in America

As per the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 41,000 Americans taking their own lives each year and more than 494,000 Americans receiving medical care for self-inflicted injuries. Clearly, there is a need for adequate measures to curb this trend and encourage people to come out of suicidal tendencies. Some of the comprehensive strategies to achieve zero suicide nationwide are:

Identifying vulnerable people: Unfortunately, most people battling suicidal tendencies need emotional support from the near and dear ones. Identifying vulnerable populations using time-tested techniques such as gatekeeper training, suicide screening etc., goes a long way in connecting to those in desperate need.

Raising awareness to seek help: Training people to identify the warning signs and accordingly seeking support from professional and trustworthy sources is the best way to lower the risk of suicide. Self-help tools and outreach campaigns are the best ways to seek timely help for high-risk individuals.

Ensuring access to suicide prevention treatment: Shrinking cultural, financial and logistical barriers is the best strategy to ensure that vulnerable individuals gain timely access to evidence-based treatments, suicide prevention interventions and coordinated systems of care.

Facilitating safe care transitions: Ensuring agreements between agencies, cross-training in specialized domains, follow-up contacts, rapid referral programs, and patient and family education are some of the mechanisms to ensure uninterrupted transition of care.

Providing effective responses during crisis: Ensuring mobile crisis teams, in addition to hotlines and helplines to those in dire emotional crisis, can be beneficial in mitigating suicidal tendencies to a great extent. Besides, walk-in crisis clinics, psychiatric services and peer support programs in hospitals and health care centers can be of great help to prevent suicide.

Limiting access to means of suicide: Creating awareness about the potential dangers and misuse of prescription medications, weapons, barriers on bridges and lethal chemicals can prevent individuals suffering from depression to resort to such means to find a quick escape route.

Seeking professional help

No one commits suicide simply because he wants to die. Suicide is, unfortunately, viewed as the easiest means to eliminate the pain. If you or a loved one is grappling with suicidal thoughts, be sure to recognize common warning signs and seek immediate professional help.

Sovereign Health provides holistic treatments for various mental health disorders as well as any underlying health condition. You can call at our 24/7 helpline at 866-973-7164 or chat online with our representatives who are available for your queries on various mental health conditions and our mental health facilities in California and other states. Our inpatient mental health treatment in California is considered among the best in the U.S.

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