September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a tough topic to think about, but rates of suicide in the U.S. have increased 33% since 1999. One person dies of suicide every 11 minutes, and the number of people who seriously think about, plan, or attempt suicide is even higher. For every one death by suicide, more than 25 others make an attempt. But suicide can be prevented. By learning the warning signs, anyone can become a mental health advocate and save a life.
Suicide Statistics in the United States
In 2019, 1.38 million Americans attempted suicide. Every year, more than 47,500 Americans die of suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of overall death, and the 4th leading cause for people ages 34-54. Of this group, men are nearly four times more likely to die of suicide. Particularly vulnerable are middle-aged white men, who make up almost 70% of suicides.
Teenagers are another at-risk group. Almost 9% of teens ages 14-18 said they made at least one suicide attempt in the past year, with girls almost twice as likely as boys to attempt suicide. Teens from indigenous populations had the highest rate of suicide attempts at 25.5%.
Importance of Mental Health Care
Depression is the leading cause of suicide and suicide attempts. We know that nearly 30% of adults have a need for mental health care that is not being addressed, a number that has remained stagnant since 2011. And while almost 10% of youth in the U.S. have been diagnosed with severe depression, 60% of youth with depression went without adequate treatment between 2017 and 2018.
The year 2020, filled with stress from the pandemic and quarantining, also shed light on the issue of mental health care. More people than ever reported moderate to severe anxiety, and more than 178,000 people said they were consumed with thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
Normalizing mental health care and asking for help is the first step in raising awareness and preventing suicides. Schools, workplaces, and individuals can take roles in suicide prevention by encouraging supportive relationships and connectedness, and responding to those who may be in need.
If you know someone who is struggling, you can be an ally right now. Set aside a time when you can dedicate your full attention and listen with sincerity. Encourage the individual to seek a mental health professional right away. If you suspect the person is in danger of self-harm, make them a priority and stay with them if possible. Do not hesitate to call in other trusted individuals.
You may even find yourself in a situation where you need help. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or any hardship in life that is contributing negatively to your mental health, now is the time to seek help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, free of charge, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You also can talk with your primary care doctor. If more specialized help is needed they may put you in touch with a psychiatrist. The mental health care team at Northwest Arkansas Psychiatry is available with support and help for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide. We treat adults as well as children and adolescents. Most insurance plans are accepted, and you do not need a referral from your primary care provider unless required by your insurance. To request an appointment, call our office at (479) 571-6363 or request an appointment online through your myMANA portal account.