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Suicide Prevention

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, you should take their distress seriously, listen non-judgmentally, and help them get to a professional for evaluation and treatment. Read More ›                                    

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if You Need To Talk To Someone. Dial 911 if you have an Emergency.

What should you do if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide?

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, you should take their distress seriously, listen non-judgmentally, and help them get to a professional for evaluation and treatment. When someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or other lethal means of committing suicide.  If someone is in imminent danger of harming himself or herself, do not leave the person alone. You may need to take emergency steps to get help, such as calling 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). People consider suicide when they are hopeless and unable to see alternative solutions to problems. Suicidal behavior is most often related to a mental disorder (depression) or to alcohol or other substance abuse. Suicidal behavior is also more likely to occur when people experience stressful events (major losses, incarceration).

Who is at highest risk for suicide in the U.S.?

Many people believe that suicide rates are highest among the young. However, the elderly, particularly older white males, have the highest rates. And among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate.  Over 70 percent of older suicide victims have been to their primary care physician within the month of their death: many did not tell their doctors they were depressed. In addition, many of the doctors did not assess these patients for depression. This has led to research efforts to determine how to best improve physicians’ abilities to detect and treat depression in older adults.

Are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth at high risk for suicide?

According to The Trevor Project, gay, lesbian, or bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth. In addition, the American Association of Suicidology lists a number of risk factors that contribute to suicide in the LGBT community. These include: harassment at school or discrimination at work due to sexual orientation, coming out at an early age, religious doctrine that condemns homosexuality, drug and alcohol use, and feelings of self-loathing, among others.

The Trevor Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 866-488-7386 or 866 4-U-TREVOR

What does "suicide contagion" mean, and what can be done to prevent it?

Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family, one's peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors. Direct and indirect exposure to suicidal behavior has been shown to precede an increase in suicidal behavior in persons at risk for suicide, especially in adolescents and young adults. The risk for suicide contagion as a result of media reporting can be minimized by factual and concise media reports of suicide. Information such as hotlines or emergency contacts should be provided for those at risk for suicide.

Following exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family or peer group, suicide risk can be minimized by having family members, friends, peers, and colleagues of the victim evaluated by a mental health professional. Persons deemed at risk for suicide should then be referred for additional mental health services.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, American Association of Suicidology, The Trevor Project


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