Suicides Common and Preventable; Learn the Risk Factors

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Suicide takes a life in the United States every 13 minutes, making it one of the leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There’s rarely a single cause that leads someone to contemplate suicide. Instead, a devastating loss or event, like losing a job or having a history of abuse, may seem overwhelming when that person is also dealing with other stressors, depression or another mental health condition,” said Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, Chair of Psychiatry at Cook County Health & Hospitals System.  “People should know that there’s help available if they reach out.  Suicide is not the answer.”

More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide are found to have at least one mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Yet, Dr. Kulik noted that there are effective treatments, like medication and therapy with a mental health professional, to address some of the underlying health issues that put people at risk for suicide.

Despite this, suicide rates continue to increase in the United States.

For instance, suicide rates for both teenage girls and boys between the ages of 15 and 19 have been steadily increasing since 2007, the latest data from the Centers for Disease and Prevention and Control.   And each year, more than 44,000 Americans kill themselves.

Dr. Kulik said there are warning signs for suicide that people should be aware of:

  • Talking about wanting to die or researching ways they can kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped or being a burden to others
  • Increasing drug or alcohol use
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Getting too much sleep or too little
  • Isolating themselves from activities or groups they used to be involved in

“If you see any of these signs, especially if this is new behavior for a loved one or it seems to be related to a recent loss or a traumatic event, you should take it seriously and act immediately,” Dr. Kulik said.

He recommended you not leave someone alone if you think they’re considering suicide. You should also remove firearms, medications and other potential tools for suicide.  And try to get your loved one immediate care from his or her doctor, a mental health professional or the nearest hospital emergency room.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a confidential, toll-free number to people considering self-harm. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In addition, CCHHS’ Community Triage Center (CTC) in Roseland provides evaluation, crisis stabilization and treatment for patients presenting with psychiatric and/or substance-related crises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Cook County Health & Hospitals System, you can also call 312-864-0200.