A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person’s life. No matter the race or age of the person; how rich or poor they are, it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.
Any one of these signs does not necessarily mean the person is considering suicide, but several of these symptoms may signal a need for help: Verbal suicide threats such as, You’d better off without me”, or “Maybe I won’t be around; expressions of hopelessness and helplessness; previous suicide attempts; daring or risking behavior; personality changes; depression; giving away prized possessions; lack of interest in future plans.
Remember: Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide, or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves.
Suicide is the eight leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 1% of all deaths. More years of life are lost to suicide than any other single cause except heart disease and cancer. 30,000 Americans die by suicide each year; an additional 500,000 Americans attempt suicide annually. Suicide rates are highest in old age: 20 % of the population and 40% of suicides victims are over 60. After age 75, the rate is three times higher than average, and among whites over 80, it is six times higher than average. Substance abuse is another great instigator of suicide, it may be involved in half of all cases. About 20% of suicides involve people with alcohol problems, and the lifetime rate of suicide among people with alcohol problems is at least three or four times the average. Completed suicides are more likely to be men over 45 who are depressed or alcoholic.
Although they may not call prevention center, people considering suicide usually do seek help; for example, 64% of people who attempt suicide visit a doctor in the month before their attempt, and 38% in the week before. No single therapeutic approach is suitable for all people considering suicide or suicidal tendencies. The most common ways to treat underlying illnesses associated with suicide are with medication, talk therapy or the combination of the two.
Cognitive (talk therapy) and behavioral (changing behavior) therapies aim at relieving the despair or suicidal patients by showing them solutions to their problems and new ways to think about themselves and their world. Behavioral methods, such as training in assertiveness, problem solving, social skills, and muscle relaxation, may reduce depression, anxiety, and social ineptitude.
Recent research strongly support the use of medication to treat the underlying depression associated with suicide. Antidepressants medication acts on chemical pathways of the brain related to mood. There are many very effective antidepressants. The two most common types are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Other new types of antidepressants are (e.g. alpha-2 antagonist, selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIS) and aminoketones).
Antidepressant medications are not habit forming. It may take three or four weeks before you feel better, the full benefit of medication may require six to eight weeks of treatment. Sometimes changes need to be made in dosage or medication type before improvements are noticed. It is usually recommended that medications be taken for at least four to nine months after depressive symptoms have improved. People with chronic depression may need to stay on medication to prevent or less1en further episodes.
People taking antidepressants should be monitored by a doctor who knows about treating clinical depression to ensure the best treatment with the fewest side effects. It is also very important that your doctor be informed about all other medications that are taken, including vitamins, and herbal supplements, in order to help avoid dangerous interactions. Alcohol or other drugs can interact negatively with antidepressant medication.
If someone you know is contemplating suicide call 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-8255.
1-800-784-2433 - www.hopeline.com will connect you with a crisis center in your area.