It would surprise me to find a person who hasn’t been impacted by someone dying by suicide. It’s that prevalent.

With September being Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month, we should be talking about this issue now. We should be talking about it every day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,500 people in the United States die by suicide every year.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • More than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. (For comparison, homicides total about 400,000 worldwide each year.)
  • For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds.
  • 77 percent of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

“While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness,” WHO says on its website. “In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior.”

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline reports, “For every one person who dies by suicide annually, 316 people seriously consider suicide, but do not kill themselves.”

From the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 adults in the U.S. experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 in the U.S. experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

All of these statistics are sad, sobering and overwhelming.

Someone I know died by suicide last month. Another family shattered, asking questions that may never be answered.

In California, the Legislature last month passed a bill that would create the CARE Court. People with severe mental illnesses who end up in the judicial system would be provided treatment plans.

The New York Times recently published an article about the importance of reaching out to friends.

“To be functioning at our best, we need to be in a connected state,” Marisa Franco, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends told the Times. “Just like you need to eat, like you need to drink, you need to be connected to be functioning well.”

Life is short even under the best of circumstances. Hug the ones you love.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800.273.8255 or dial 988. The three digit code has been available to everyone in the U.S. since July 16. It’s also possible to text 988.

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