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It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It strikes the young and the old disproportionately and unfortunately, it is a growing problem. Suicide is a growing crisis according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), but it is also a potentially preventable problem.
Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with most of those deaths being men. NIMH says 4 times as many men commit suicide as women even though women report suicide attempts 2 to 3 times as often as men. White males commit suicide more than any other group, 72 percent of suicides.
The most common method of suicide is with a gun. Close to 60 percent of suicides involve a gun. White males commit 79 percent of the suicides that involve guns. Ninety percent of suicide attempts that use a gun are successful, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Youth suicide is skyrocketing. Between 1980 and 1997, the rate for youth 10-14 years old grew by 109 percent, according to CDC.
At the same time, the rate for youths 15-19 went up 11 percent. Overall, suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between 10 and 24. (Read about "Teenage Health Risks")
The rate of suicide among African American youth has grown at an even higher rate, says CDC, over 200 percent for those between the ages of 10-14 and 126 percent for those 15-19. Guns are responsible for 96 percent of the increase. (Read about "Minority Health")
The highest rates of suicide are for those over the age of 65 and have been since 1933 when nationwide statistics started. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCICP) says that even though those over the age of 65 make up only 13 percent of the population, they commit 20 percent of the suicides. And as people get older, the problem gets worse with the highest suicide rate of all involving white males over the age of 85 (65/100,000).
Everyone agrees that suicide is a complex problem. Every suicide has a separate and distinct reason, but there are usually warning signs. Many suicides involve depression (Read about "Depressive Illnesses") and substance abuse. (Read about "Talking About Drug Abuse") AAP says that alcohol is suspected in more than half of youth suicides. Alcohol is also suspected in many elderly suicides. (Read about "Alcoholism")
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) says there are warning signs to look for. They include:
In addition, suicide threats should never be ignored. A person who threatens suicide is, at the very least, thinking about it.
The elderly present their own problems. It is estimated that half the elderly that commit suicide live alone. That social isolation leaves them vulnerable. Many of the elderly do not seek help for depression. (Read about "Depression and Seniors") NMHA says many elderly think that depression is just a part of growing old, even though that is not the case. The loss of a spouse can often send a person into depression. Without other contacts, that situation can get worse. (Read about "Helping the Bereaved") Sickness also plays a part. The Geriatric Psychiatry Alliance says that nearly 93 percent of adults think that depression is normal in people suffering from a serious medical condition.
For teens, the elderly and just about everyone else the support of family and friends has been found to be a safety net for those who are depressed.
It is important that people who are thinking about suicide get professional help.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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