Recent celebrity suicides, and a frightening report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifying this as a growing problem and the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, have demanded attention coast to coast.
That’s good if it means people become more aware of warning signs. It’s not so good if people become fixated on the morbid details of celebrity deaths, which may perpetuate the problem.
But amid all the attention, one thing should be done immediately, and it involves you.
Reach out. Talk to a friend, neighbor or loved one who may be going through a difficult time or who has battled mental illness. Talk to people you worry about for any reason. Let them know you are there. Let them know of other resources that can help.
Do it today.
Suicide shatters families. Adding to the anguish is how it often seems to come as a surprise. As The New York Times recently reported, research shows 80 percent of victims explicitly denied having such thoughts just prior to committing the act.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be prevented. We live in a world where people feel increasingly isolated and where social media replaces personal human interaction. Resolve to end that trend with your own acquaintances.
Experts agree there are warning signs. People going through relationship troubles with a spouse or significant other are at risk. Those experiencing problems related to employment, either due to a job loss or other significant work stress, also are at risk.
Mental illness remains an important factor, with an apparent 48 percent of suicide victims having been treated at some point.
Also, removing the means to commit suicide — primarily guns and medication —is just as important as looking for warning signs.
Lock away guns and store them separately from ammunition. Restrict access to prescription drugs and dispose of them properly. Reduce opportunities. Give people further reason to pause and delay.
Some states have passed laws allowing judges to remove guns from people deemed at risk for suicide. Initial studies have shown a possible correlation between these laws and a reduction in gun-related suicides.3 comments on this story
Utah recently passed legislation providing for better staffed, more effective 24-hour hotlines for those considering suicide or for people worried about friends.
Add these to the powerful effect of personal contact and society has a fighting chance against this growing tragedy.
Please, reach out to someone today. Let them know you will help.
The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Utah, you can access help through the SafeUT app or by calling its crisis line, 801-587-3000.