|September is Suicide Prevention Month and I want to take a moment to discuss this very important subject. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide rates have continued to climb over the past 20 years, with an upswing since COVID. Anxiety and depression have also risen. Unfortunately, the availability of therapists is down and school social services have been unable to keep up with demand. This makes it even more important that we better understand why some people are in higher risk groups, learn how to identify signs of distress, and have ways we can intervene to help.|
|Disparities in Suicide Rates|
Suicide, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation (thinking about, considering, or planning suicide) are impacted by a number of factors, including negative social conditions where people live, work, and learn. While anyone can be at risk for suicide, studies show that some groups experience more negative conditions and, correspondingly, have higher rates of suicide or suicide attempts than the general population. These “social determinants of health” are affected by such things as racism and discrimination, economic hardship, limited affordable housing, lack of educational opportunities, and barriers to healthcare access. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 15 to 24. Research has found rates are highest among adolescents and young adults identifying as a sexual minority (i.e., related to sexual orientation) or gender minority (i.e., related to gender identity). This is one reason I am such an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and stand strongly against the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation plaguing our country. What to Look For
If you are concerned that someone may be at risk for suicide, look for some of these common signs: Talking about wanting to die or to end their life.Looking for a way to commit suicide themselves, such as searching for the topic online or purchasing a gun. If there is a specific plan, the person is more likely to follow through.Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, and/or being a burden to others.Actions such as increased use of alcohol or drugs, exhibiting rage, talking about seeking revenge, or behaving recklessly.Sleeping too little or too much.Withdrawing or isolating themselves.Extreme mood swings, including acting anxious or agitated. How to Help
There are some key ways we can show up for people who suffer from depression, hopelessness and emotional pain. Most importantly:
Be there for them. This could be by phone or in person.
Follow up. Give them a call or visit. Send a text or an email to let them know that you are still thinking about them and they are not alone.
Some Wholistic Approaches to Treating Depression and Anxiety
Work with a mental health therapistPractice mindfulness techniquesSpend time outside getting fresh air and sunshinePrioritize good sleep hygieneOptimize gut microbiomeOptimize vitamin D and thyroid levelsSpend time with loved ones who make you feel goodWork with a knowledgeable provider who knows how to properly use cannabinoids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals Additional Resources
NIMH 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
988 Lifeline Chat and Text: Dial 988 on any phone
The Trevor Project: 24/7 phone, text, or online chat
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 With love,Dr. David