Suicide Rates Up 33%: What You Need to Know

New findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that between 1999 and 2017, the suicide rate has increased 33%. Although suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages, funding for research and prevention has lagged far behind other diseases, according to an investigative report from USA Today. It is clear that there is much work to be done in order to help those that are suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. What can you do?

Learn what to look for in order to help someone. Education is the first step in prevention and treatment. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, mental illness is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide, and over 50% of people who commit suicide suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of depression and take them seriously if you recognize them in yourself or in a loved one. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Restlessness or irritation
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Keep in mind that men and women sometimes experience depression differently, and present with different symptoms. Men with depression may be quicker to anger, turn to self-medicating with alcohol/drugs, or spend too much time at work as a form of escapism.

If you know that someone has been struggling from depression, check in with them and ask what you can do to help. Look out for warning signs that they may be considering suicide. These warning signs include:

  • Worsening depression symptoms
  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Recently experiencing a serious loss (loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce)
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Losing interest in his or her personal appearance
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.

Take action if you are worried about someone. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, any mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, don’t be scared or embarrassed to reach out for support and treatment. Tell someone you trust—your partner, your parent, a friend or sibling—and let them know that you need help. To speak with a trained and confidential crisis counselor about yourself or someone you’re concerned about, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. If you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself, call 911.

Get involved. The stigma against mental illness is what keeps many from seeking out treatment. The fear of being labeled as “crazy” or “weak” is a barrier that is difficult to overcome, especially for minority populations and men. By joining or supporting organizations like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), you can help end the stigma and raise funding for mental health outreach.

Please be advised that the information presented here is for information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. All readers are encouraged to discuss any issues or concerns they may have with their behavioral health providers.