Most of us have been touched by suicide. If your life hasn’t been, count yourselves among the lucky and the fortunate. It’s hard to get out of this life without knowing someone who left early.
Between ages 10 and 55, suicide is one of the top four reasons people die in the U.S. every year.
Yet you hear more about heart disease, HIV, diabetes and cancer on the nightly news than you ever do about this fatal but preventable problem. Why is that?
Society and the media appear to continue to believe — and through their belief, reinforce — the lies and the half-truths about suicide.
Today is a day to end your own false beliefs about suicide.
Suicide, in the vast majority of cases, is not simply a selfish act brought about by a single event. It is the result of a complex set of interactions, almost always involving a mental health diagnosis like depression (whether formally diagnosed or not), and/or substance use.
It helps many to just think of suicide as a symptom of severe depression. Not everyone who has clinical depression experiences suicide, but most people who have suicidal thoughts and take action on those thoughts has depression (or another, related, mental illness).
Some people are being treated for their depression, yet they may still experience thoughts of suicide. Worse yet, sometimes people taking certain kinds of antidepressants might feel more suicidal before they feel less suicidal after starting treatment.
Researchers believe they have an explanation for this paradoxical finding. Antidepressants will often help lift the fog of muddy energy and lethargy in someone who is depressed. But they may not as quickly help lift a person’s mood. So now a depressed person has more energy, but is still severely depressed — they suddenly have the energy to actually think about acting on their suicidal thoughts.
The key is careful and continuous support of a person who is suffering from depression. And to ensure treatment includes not just a psychiatric medication (in the U.S., most often prescribed not by a psychiatrist, but by a family physician), but also followup treatment with psychotherapy and a psychiatrist’s referral. Decades worth of depression research shows that combined treatment with psychotherapy and a medication is the most likely to be effective in the quickest amount of time.
Suicide — like heart disease and obesity — is a treatable illness. But we shouldn’t be relegated to talking about it this one day of the year.
Share this link with your friends if you agree, and help spread the word about suicide awareness, treatment and prevention.
- Read this first…
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S.
- Elsewhere in the world, consult this directory