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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – We Need To Make #SuicidePrevention A Public #Health Priority

The #pandemic has impacted our #mental well-being. Be on the lookout for suicidal behavior.

By Paul Schoenfeld

The statistics are sad: According to the #CenterforDiseaseControl, #suicide remains the fourth leading cause of death for adults ages 35-54, and the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults ages 10-34. The #suicide rate increased 35% from 1999 to 2018.

In 2019, there were close to 47,000 deaths by #suicide in the U.S. compared to nearly 39,000 who died in car accidents.

Yet consider how much thought, engineering and safety resources go into the prevention of automobile accidents compared to #suicideprevention. Nations that have made #suicideprevention a public health priority have seen drops in #suicide rates over time. 

A close friend and teacher of mine killed himself when he was in his late 50s. Like many survivors of #suicide, I felt a deep sadness and regret that I was unable to help him. His life had gone off the rails — he lost his job and his partner, brought about by years of alcohol dependence. I imagine he had feelings of #hopelessness and despair.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

A 2017 survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a national polling firm, found that 55% of adults know of someone who had died by #suicide. It’s a cause of death that impacts millions of lives.

There is never a single cause of #suicide. There are often multiple risk factors including #health issues (#depression, substance abuse, #mentalillness and serious physical health conditions), environmental factors (stressful life events like divorce, job loss, #financial problems or relationship issues) and historical factors (previous #suicide attempts, a family history of #suicide, or childhood abuse or trauma).

Lack of access to affordable #mentalhealthcare is a huge barrier. It’s difficult to find providers who have openings, and frequently there is a long wait, which can result in patients getting into a deeper and deeper depressive state. Our health care system has a long way to go to improve access to #mentalhealthcare.

And, unsurprisingly, our once-in-a-hundred-years global #pandemic has made a big dent in our #mental well-being. A study, commissioned by the #CDC this summer, surveyed over 5,400 adults during the week of June 24-30. Over all, 41% of the respondents reported at least one adverse #mental or #behavioralhealthissue, including #depression, #anxiety or a #stress-related disorder.

Over 25% of youth aged 18-24 reported serious suicidal thoughts. Over all, 13% reported either the start of or increases in substance use. The prevalence of symptoms of #anxiety disorder was about three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019, and the prevalence of depressive disorder was four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019.

All of this should alert us to be on the lookout for potential signs of #suicide in our friends and relatives. These signs include:

• Talk about killing oneself, #hopelessness, being a burden to others, having no reason to live, feeling trapped or experiencing unbearable pain.

• Behaviors that include increased use of alcohol or drugs, social withdrawal, giving away possessions, visiting or calling others to say goodbye, #insomnia, aggression, looking online for ways of killing oneself, or isolating oneself from friends and family.

• Moods such as #depression, #anxiety, feelings of shame or humiliation, loss of interest, agitation, anger or sudden improvement of mood.

If a friend or relative is exhibiting some of the above signs, don’t be afraid to ask them if they are having suicidal thoughts. There is no evidence that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal results in a greater likelihood of making a #suicideattempt. Indeed, it’s our connection with each other, the availability of social support, and the concern of loved ones that can make all the difference.

For more information or for help, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 800-273-8255. They have services available 24/7 for calls or online chats.

Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist at #TheEverettClinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog.

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