by Jen Moes, RN
September is designated to focus on prevention of a growing cause of death – Suicide.
- Alarmingly, suicide is now more common than dying in a car crash.
- In the most recent statistic year, Kent County is in the top five Michigan counties for deaths by suicide with 46 deaths.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 38,000 lives in 2010.
- Death by suicide is up 200% over the past 50 years for young adults between the ages of 15 and 25.
What are the warning signs for suicide?
There are warning signs that someone wants to end their life most of the time. They may have been struggling with depression, talking about just ending it all, saying they are done, not wanting to be involved in activities like they used to be, using drugs and alcohol, talking about feeling trapped, feeling there’s no point in life, or complaining of feeling hopeless. Take these seriously and refer the suffering person for help.
Who is at the highest risk for suicide?
Someone suffering from depression has 20 times the risk of committing suicide. Two out of three persons who commit suicide are depressed at the time of their death. Alcohol and drug use that can make you feel more depressed or more impulsive play a role in one out of three completed suicides. White males, the elderly and teenagers are at higher risk.
What should I do if I am afraid that a person might end their life?
First and foremost: Simply Ask! Be a good listener, validate how they are feeling, ask about their thoughts, tell them that help is available, and that you’re going to help them get it.
Call Pine Rest directly at 1-800-678-5500; take the person to the closest hospital emergency department; or call the national suicide prevention number 1-800-273-TALK to speak to a trained professional. They can offer advice and information on what to do.
Guns are the leading cause of suicide, remove them from access. Also, remove objects that could be used for hanging, and secure all medications including Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Ibuprofen. Stay with them until they are evaluated by a mental health worker or can be monitored by other friends or family members.
We need to talk openly about the fact that people experience these thoughts and have an action plan in mind to help. Do your personal best to become educated and involved. There are many ways to get involved here in Southwest Michigan.
Please join the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and Awareness as they walk to commemorate the lives that have been lost, survivors of suicide, and interested participants in raising funds/awareness for research, September 28, 10 a.m. in Millenium Park in Grand Rapids. It’s a 2-3 mile walk with free hot dogs to follow.
Here is a list of websites for information on suicide awareness and prevention.
Jen Moes, NP, is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who specializes in the psychiatric diagnosis and medical treatment of children and teenagers. She works for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services at the Southwest Clinic. For more information, go to www.pinerest.org.