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According to the CDC, more than 45,000 people die every year from suicide. That’s around 123 citizens per day. This is an epidemic that can touch so many lives. So how can you help reduce those numbers while helping the people most at risk in your life? Here are a few important tips to make that task easier.
Know The Warning Signs and High-Risk Groups
The first step to preventing suicide is recognizing when there is a problem. Suicide has numerous warning signs that can be tricky to spot. Taken individually, they may not necessarily mean you or a loved one needs help, but when multiple red flags exist, it may be time to act. Some of the warning signs of suicide include:
Sometimes these signs are out in the open, and other times they may be harder to spot. Recognizing these signs in high-risk individuals may be cause for more concern. For example, those who are divorced and widowed tend to have a higher rate of suicide than those who are marries. In fact, breakups among married and cohabitating couples are a common factor among suicide victims. Suicide is also a leading cause of death among young people (aged 15-24), surpassed only by accidents. So, if you or a loved one is going through a hard time, know that you may need help to get out of the darkness.
Some other high-risk groups include:
Understand The Connection Between Substance Abuse and Suicide
Having a history substance abuse is also among the risk factors for suicide, especially alcohol abuse. In fact, alcohol and drugs, including medication, are often a means to commit suicide. Using drugs can lead to depression, but depression can be a trigger for substance abuse too. Carolyn C. Ross, M.D., M.PH.H, writes in Psychology Today that many physicians may miss the signs of suicide in addicts because substance abuse is often masking mental health issues.
Counseling is one of the best tools to employ when you or a loved one find that your feelings of hopelessness are persistent. A counselor can give you the opportunity to untangle your knot of feelings, and most insurance companies provide mental health coverage that includes counseling. Seniors are also eligible for counseling services under Medicare, though expanded coverage is usually provided through Medicare Advantage plans.
Know How to Get Help and Prevent Suicides
Now that you know the risk factors and signs of suicide, you need to know how to help those in need. You also need to act quickly.
If you or a loved is in immediate danger, these steps can save a life:
Even if you or a loved one is only thinking about suicide or feeling extremely depressed, there are still ways to get help. For those already in drug rehab or counseling programs, tell your doctor about all of your symptoms, particularly depression or any suicidal thoughts. Since mental health issues can make recovery more difficult, being open with your provider can make it easier to get to the root of your addiction.
Suicide is such a complicated topic, but knowing the warning signs can make an incredible difference. You can know when you or a loved one needs help, and what to do in order to potentially save your life, or the life of another.
- Melissa Howard
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