THE THERAPY ROOM: Concerning suicide

Posted on 19 July 2018 by LeslieM

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates in the United States increased 30 percent between 2000 and 2016 and, according to a June 2018 CDC separate analysis, suicides have risen in almost every state.

The recent suicides of the well-know fashion designer Kate Spade, age 55, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, age 61, bring forth the sad reality that suicide rates for middle aged people are now higher than almost any other age group in the United States … and rising.

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the most common stressors linked to middle age suicides include problems with partners, job and finances, health, family and legal issues. Other links have been made to using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, physical and chronic pain, untreated depression and other mental health problems and isolation. It is isolating to be a well-known figure where people want to know you for social opportunities and not always for social connections.

Bridget Phetasy a stand-up comedian and freelance writer explains, “If you’ve never wanted to kill yourself, it’s hard to comprehend the feeling, but it’s insidious and ever-present and, once the idea of suicide got in my head, it was like a worm that infected the network, exploiting the vulnerabilities in my operating system. When I was deep in that darkness, the thought was always with me, haunting me, waiting for just the right moment or excuse to tip me over the line from ideation to planning to action.”

There is a call to action for every state in the United States to intensify the focus on implementing suicide prevention policies and programs to save lives! Twenty-seven states note that 54 percent of those who died from suicide were not diagnosed with a mental health condition (CDC, 2015).

Dr. Jerry Reed, an executive member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, says that the alliance is working with more than 250 hospitals nationwide to ensure that someone brought into their facilities after a suicide attempt is connected to long-term mental healthcare. He advocates that churches, schools and police need to improve recognizing people at risk for suicide and help them get proper treatment and to feel less isolated.

Dr. Reed believes that limiting access to guns for people who are unwell is also a priority. He states, “People at risk for suicide must be asked if they have firearms and it might be a good idea to have someone hold onto their firearms while they are in treatment.”

Help and hope:

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Veterans can dial 1. People are available to talk 24 hours every day. The website (www.speakingofsuicide.com) offers important resources. If you or someone you know feel suicidal, contact a doctor or a mental health professional, family, clergy or friends and dial 911 if necessary. When it comes to thinking about suicide — there is help and hope.

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information is available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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