SUICIDE - A SILENT KILLER
Suicide prevention is an umbrella term for the collective efforts of local citizen organizations, mental health practitioners and related professionals to reduce the incidence of suicide.
There are many behavioral indicators that can help parents or friends recognize the threat of suicide in a loved one. Since mental and substance-related disorders so frequently accompany suicidal behavior, many of the cues to be looked for are symptoms associated with such disorders as depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, disruptive behavior disorders, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia.
Some common symptoms of these disorders include:
- Extreme personality changes
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Significant loss or gain in appetite
- Difficulty falling asleep or wanting to sleep all day
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
- Sadness, irritability, or indifference
- Having trouble concentrating
- Extreme anxiety or panic
- Drug or alcohol use or abuse
- Aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
- Poor school performance
- Hallucinations or unusual beliefs
People Need To Be Aware...
Growing up with my mother’s suicide was a dirty secret. Dealing with her death at the tender age of eight years old was no easy task. At the time there was no support for this sort of thing in my school or community.
My own process of healing came later on in life with the help of a grievance counselor referred from a local hospital. The best way to say it is that my inner child, the younger me never got to grieve the loss of my mother. I became an overachiever who raced through life away from my pain.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was tell my children the truth about their grandmother. Suicide is very hard to explain because the person chooses to take his or her life. It is not like a fatal medical diagnosis or some disease you can blame or pray for. It is a person’s decision.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds and second for 24 to 35 year olds according to DoSomething.org. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Melinda Moore, the biggest cause of suicide in middle-aged men is “loneliness.” Other factors range from economic issues to education. About two-thirds of people who commit suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed or ineffectively treated is the number one cause of suicide, she says.
Suicide is preventable or at least somewhat preventable. Other facts about suicide are as follows. We know that people with HIV/AIDS are twice at risk for suicide as the general population. Each suicide intimately affects at least six other people and more then half of all suicides are completed with a firearm. We know, as told to us by the Harvard School of Public Health that people who can get hold of a gun are more likely to commit suicide. Men make up 79% of all suicides, while women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts.
I chose to share this because I am a parent and I know that there is an increase in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying comes in many forms and children and teenagers can be deeply affected by receiving mean messages and being publicly humiliated on social sites and in other social media. We need to be aware if our children or loved ones need help with depression and need treatment.
If we are going to prevent suicide, we not only need to take away guns and be sensitive to high-risk cases, we need to provide health care. As reported in an article in the New York Times, twenty-six percent of adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder and six-percent of all adults experience a debilitating mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Twenty-one percent of teenagers experience a severe emotional disturbance between the ages of 13 and 18. The complicated part about health coverage to treat mental illness is that it is not easy to find a practitioner who takes your insurance and coverage maybe limited.
It seems that there is more awareness on a global level but I still feel there needs to be more support in our local communities. We need more support at schools, churches, parks and other local places where people can seek immediate help. More courses in suicide prevention would be helpful for teachers, doctors and church members. Schools should also have numbers for suicide prevention hotlines in the classrooms now that kids are suffering from cyberbullying.
Suicide has affected many lives and many people who are hurting do not know how to ask for help. If my mother would have had some local support group at my school or a local church where she could go to for immediate help, she may have still been around to read stories to her grandchildren.
Suicide is a silent killer.
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