Health Headlines: Suicide Prevention

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:32 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - September is National Suicide Prevention Month which reminds us that every 11 minutes someone commits suicide in the U.S. That’s around 130 people every day. In fact, there are about twice as many suicides in the U.S. as there are homicides.

Dr. Douglas Ruderfer and Dr. JooEun Kang work at Vanderbilt University Medical Center studying the links between mental health and suicide.

Dr. Ruderfer explains just how common it is, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States; that’s top three among young adults and adolescents.”

The rates of mental disorders linked to suicides are also on the rise. Studies show depression rates in the U.S. tripled in the early months of the pandemic and a study from Boston University found that depression now affects a third of all Americans.

Dr. Kang says, “We know that depression is a major risk factor for a suicide attempt.”

But there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of suicide.

“That, oftentimes, just starts or can begin with telling someone, a friend, a family member or a doctor, that you are, in fact, struggling,” says Dr. Ruderfer.

If you know someone who is struggling, you don’t have to wait until they talk to you. Be sensitive and aks them direct questions such as, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” Or, “Do you have access to weapons or anything that can be used as a weapon to harm yourself?”

Studies have shown that talking about suicide decreases, rather than increases, a person’s risk for suicide. Also, it’s important to encourage the person to speak to a mental health professional and never promise to keep someone’s suicidal thoughts a secret.

If you or anyone you know needs help, you or they can call the national suicide prevention hotline at 988.