When someone dies as a result of suicide, people are often shocked and saddened. They wonder why, and what could have been done to stop it. Was anyone aware there was a problem? Why did the person not get help? The truth is that nearly most of us have had or will have thoughts of suicide and death in our lifetime, yet we live in a world where these topics are taboo. Rather, they are hidden from public view. And if suicidal behavior is discussed openly, it is often after the fact by those left behind.
Every year over 40,000 Americans have “death by suicide” recorded on their death certificates. Sadly, that number is increasing both nationally and here in New Hampshire. Death by suicide is now NH’s 2nd lead cause of death for ages 10 to 34 and is an increasing concern for older adults.
What can we do to help? The first thing we can do is to create an environment where it is okay to talk about behavioral health issues. Mental Illness should be just as easy to admit to as the common cold. After all, 1 in 5 Americans will deal with some form of Mental Illness this year, the most common being anxiety and depression. And when people face the challenges of anxiety and depression, we need to ask if they too have thoughts of ending their life as there is a direct correlation between those diagnoses and substance misuse and suicidal ideation. While that may seem like an invasive question, people are often relieved to talk about it. That these thoughts are common gives individuals the power to confront them openly, without judgement.
Ultimately, we as a society need to be better informed. Only then can appropriate treatment start. The field of Mental Health has amazing, life-changing treatments that really do work. Talking about our feelings is a way to gain control over that which overwhelms us and ultimately helps us lead more fulfilling lives. No one needs to suffer alone.
If you or someone you know if is crisis, please reach out and call (800) 688-3544
Rik Cornell, VP Community Relations