By April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of suicide, reduce associated stigmas and encourage worldwide action to reduce the number of global suicides and suicide attempts.
Suicide is a growing health problem around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates of suicide in the United States (U.S.) increased 33% between 1999 and 2019, and suicide was the 10th leading cause of death during that time.
Like other human behaviors, there is no one cause of suicide. Suicide may occur in response to a combination of biological, psychological, environmental, social and interpersonal issues. There are factors that can increase risk of suicide, including exposure to other forms of injury and violence during one’s lifetime. People who have experienced child abuse, sexual violence or bullying have a higher risk of suicide.
The highest rates of suicide in the U.S. are within American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations. Other U.S. populations with increased rates of suicide are people who live in rural areas, workers in industries like mining and construction and military veterans. Among the younger population, people who identify as members of the LGBTQ community experience a higher rate of suicidal ideation and behavior than their peers.
The CDC reports that in the U.S. there is one death by suicide every 11 minutes, and there were more than 47,500 deaths by suicide in 2019 alone.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the following behaviors are warning signs that a person may be suicidal. Get help immediately if you or a loved one:
- Wanting to die.
- Great guilt or shame.
- Being a burden to others.
- Empty, hopeless, trapped or like there is no reason to live.
- Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated or full of rage.
- Unbearable emotional or physical pain.
Change behavior, such as:
- Planning or researching ways to die.
- Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items or making a will.
- Taking dangerous risks, such as driving extremely fast.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Eating or sleeping more or less.
- Using drugs or alcohol more often.
Suicide is often preventable, yet prevention requires all levels of society to engage. Help prevent suicide by learning the warning signs, promoting prevention and resilience and committing to social change.
On this World Suicide Prevention Day, let’s remember those impacted by suicide and work with our communities to prevent future sui