posted Sep 15, 2017, 11:15 AM by First Congregational Church United Church of Christ

It’s a subject no one likes to talk about, but suicide is a major health concern.  Over 41,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States.  More than twice as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide.  Suicide is tragic.  But it is often preventable.  Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate.

The main risk factors for suicide are:

·         Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder

·         A prior suicide attempt

·         Family history of a mental disorder, substance abuse disorder or suicide

·         Family history of violence, including physical or sexual abuse

·         Having guns or other firearms in the home

·         Incarceration, being in prison or jail

·         Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures

The signs and symptoms below may be signs that someone is thinking of suicide:

·         Talking about want to die or wanting to kill themselves

·         Talking about feeling empty, hopeless or having no reason to live

·         Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves

·         Talking about great guilt or shame

·         Talking about feeling trapped or feeling there are no solutions

·         Feeling unbearable pain (emotional or physical)

·         Talking about being a burden to others

·         Using alcohol or drugs more often

·         Acting anxious or agitated

·         Withdrawing from family or friends

·         Changing eating or sleeping habits

·         Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

·         Taking great risks that could lead to death

·         Talking or thinking about death often

·         Displaying extreme mood swings

·         Giving away important possessions

·         Saying goodbye to friends and family

·         Putting affairs in order, making a will

People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide.  Men are more likely to die by suicide than women but women are more likely to attempt suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 34.  Older adults are at risk for suicide too.

If you know or suspect someone is considering suicide, ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves.  It is a hard question but it does not increase suicide or suicidal thoughts.  Listen to them and be there for them.  Do not leave him or her alone.  Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911.  Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications.  Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The service is confidential and available to everyone.  Stay connected with the person to show him or her that you care.

For those interested, there is a “Walk 2 Remember” sponsored by the St. Clair County Department of Mental Health on Sunday, October 8 2017 at East China Park.  Forms are on the back table and you can get more information by calling Amy Smith at 810-966-7830.

Source:  National Institute of Mental Health

Another important topic this month is how to age with grace:  managing loss, loneliness and depression.  Losses can be deaths, divorce, distancing from loved ones, retirement or unemployment, financial losses, loss of self-worth, loss of physical abilities, loss of friendships or loss of independence.  To help deal with this topic, River District Hospital is offering a CareLink Lunch & Learn at 11:30 on September 13.  To register call 1-888-751-5465. 

Have a wonderful month,

Mary Ann Martin, RN, FCN