As I said yesterday approximately 60 individuals succumb to suicide each year here in Lake County, IL. Nationwide someone dies of suicide every 18 minutes. There is a suicide attempt every minute. These are staggering numbers. Somebody ought to do something.
We work hard to prevent homicides and violence people commit against others, but we don’t seem to work very hard against suicide and violence people commit against themselves. It is not talked about much, you don’t read about it in the paper (yes, I read newspapers) or see or hear about it on the news. I get daily calls from the media looking for deaths that they should report on. They turn down information about individuals dying from suicide, unless it is done in public or it is sensational in some way or the local school releases that they will be working with the other students to “get over it”.
We need to talk about suicide if we are going to prevent suicide. We need to educate the community and increase awareness about suicide. We must decrease the stigma associated with suicide, with attempting suicide, with seeking help so that we do not attempt and/or succumb to suicide. We must promote social/community support for these individuals. We need to reinforce positive help seeking behavior. We need to make certain that there is someplace, someone, from which these individuals can get the help they need.
There are programs that have had success in suicide prevention. They can have cute acronyms, like ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) or QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), but they have much in common. To be successful we, the community, must recognize the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation/planning and push individual (in a kind, empathetic but insistent way) to get help. Also, we must recognize and bridge the barriers to help seeking (social stigma, cultural beliefs and access to mental health services). This is a community health epidemic (pandemic?) that we the community must work to mitigate. We can do something.