By Dr. Keita Franklin, Chief Clinical Officer at Psych Hub
The number one thing I’ve learned in my more than 20 years of experience in the mental health space is that there is always more to be learned. Suicidal behavior and prevention are complex. Just as there is not one single thing leading to suicidal behaviors, there is also not one single thing that will prevent them from occurring. In order to provide exceptional care and support to individuals with lived experience, friends, family members and co-workers, we must continue to learn about mental health.
With that in mind, let’s review the latest trends, warning signs and some key resources that everyone should be aware of:
Suicidal Behavior Trends
Suicidal behavior does not discriminate—it is a national and global issue touching all populations. To fully understand the impact of suicidal behavior it’s vital to be aware of key trends.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. with nearly 45,000 Americans aged 10 or older dying from suicide in 2017.
Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state from 1999 to 2016, with over 25 states experiencing increases of over 30%.
Suicide has become a public health crisis, ranking as the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in individuals aged 10-34.
While suicide rates have increased in the U.S., they have decreased in other countries, such as Japan and Canada, proving that we can bend the curve of the suicide crisis in the other direction.
The Warning Signs
Every single person can help save a life. With suicide rates continuing to rise, it has become even more important for people to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of suicidal behavior including:
- Extreme mood swings
- Showing rage
- Withdrawing or isolating from others
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Substance abuse
- Talking about feeling hopeless or trapped
- Talking about wanting to die
- Feeling like a burden
Life stressors can include:
- Relationship struggles
- Legal issues
- Financial struggles
The warning signs of suicidal behavior have not changed over the years, but due to technological advancements, the way in which people make others aware has changed slightly. For example, individuals who may be struggling with suicidal behaviors are now likely to use outlets such as social media and gaming to share their feelings.
Resources to Bookmark
Now is the best time to start building a collection of resources that you may need one day for yourself or a loved one. Suicidal behaviors can happen at any moment, so instead of waiting until you truly need them, I recommend finding some trusted resources now to become familiar with.
Resources to save:
- MHAScreening.org: Offers free, confidential, and secure mental health screens. Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center: Offers resources including webinars and online courses.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Advocates for suicide prevention research and funding.
- Psych Hub: An online platform providing free, engaging videos for individuals and healthcare providers about mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention.
- PsychArmor: Provides resources to Americans so they can effectively engage with and support military service members, veterans, and their families.
- American Association of Suicidology- Offers free resources and information on national programs to support suicide prevention.
With the knowledge of these topics, we can all be better mental health advocates and support systems for a loved one who may be struggling with suicidal behavior. Continue to arm yourself with knowledge because you may never know when you’ll need it and every single person has the ability to save a life.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to connect to a local crisis center or text MHA to 741741 to connect to a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.