Suicide Crisis in the United States

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Epidemiology

The suicide crisis in our country has shown prevalence for over twenty years going back to 1996. Although it has been an issue for as long as it has happened, over the past decade, suicide has become one of the main top 10 causes of death in the United States (Greenwald, 2018). In 2016 alone 45,000 people committed suicide.

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(Greenwald, 2018) That number alone does not include the number of those who attempted suicide and did not succeed. If people aren’t attempting it, they may be contemplating the idea of it. What drives people to feel like suicide is their only choice? The reasons behind this crisis will vary from person to person based on their age, race, sex, personal history, personality traits and more (Kent, 2010). Young people are especially a large category of people who heavily deal with suicide. In particular, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender adolescents are at a higher risk of adverse mental health outcomes and may lead to suicide (Ahuja, 2016). People who are in a fragile mental or emotional state are more likely to look towards suicide for escape of their everyday problems. The suicide crisis in our country is quite complex but it can be partially prevented if we make it priority to teach people such as doctors and health care providers to be able to identify people at risk and follow up with them to assure that they are given help they need.

Etiology

There are an infinite amount of factors that contribute to the suicide crisis in our country. One person’s circumstances can completely differ from others, yet they can both be experiencing the same suicidal tendencies. People endure so much negativity daily, one can only handle so much hurt till they reach a point where they feel as though there is no way anything can ever improve. Victims of suicidal thoughts are typically in a very fragile state of mind, meaning any negative event that they endure during this state has the ability to cause them to react in an irrational way. There are a variety of factors that people go through that give them suicidal thoughts. Some may experience heavy bullying on a day to day basis, some may have suffered through abuse, others may be leading an unstable lifestyle that they are not happy with. A big percent of people who commit suicide or have suicidal thoughts are linked to the LGBTQ community and are battling with the idea of suicide because they don’t feel accepted or are experiencing harassment due to their sexuality ( FIND LGBTQ STAT) These are all reasons why people are pushed towards suicide. In this day and age, social media plays a huge part in many people’s daily lives. People post on social media to express themselves and have fun with photos. Unfortunately, it is a common occurance to see someone in the comment section tearing down the peoples spirit, often leaving words of hate and disgust. Social networking applications have revolutionized the way our patients communicate. “E-suicide notes” have been reported with increasing frequency in other countries (Behera, et al., 2014). When this takes place on a person who is high risk for suicide, social media hate can often be the last straw for the person in the fragile state. Often times people who have committed suicide or are thinking about it battle mental illness and depression. After a study tested in Cambridge University, they found a significantly higher increased risk of future mental illness and suicide among young adults after self-harm (Beckman, et al., 2016).

Impact

In 2017 alone, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. In the same year 1,300,000 suicides were attempted (“Suicide Statistics,” 2017). These statistics weigh heavily on the families and friends of victims of suicide. Having a loved one commit suicide derails the lives of many and places an incredible amount of guilt on them. Studies have found that family members who have had their life infiltrated by a suicide tend to feel worse about themselves and become negatively viewed by others (Goode, 2003). In a study taken in 1993, it was found that women who have lost their husbands to suicide were perceived to be less likeable, more blameworthy and overall more psychologically disturbed rather than women whose husbands have died from illness or accidents (Goode, 2003). It appears clear that the loss of a loved one to suicide takes an impactful toll on an individual’s life which causes a community to come together in an effort to support one another through a difficult time.

One can expect that families and loved ones who’ve experienced losing someone impacts them deeply. The emotions they feel after a loved one’s self inflicted death will take a heavy toll on them as mentioned previously. Child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh, David Brent, has found that it is common to find high levels of depression in the siblings of victims of adolescent suicide. He has also found that to be similar to the mothers of the victims, who have been known to experience more significant depression and struggles as opposed to the siblings (Goode, 2003). People will react differently to these tragedies based off of their personalities. In another study conducted by Steven Bailley who is a clinical psychologist and researcher, it was found that cases of familial suicide may imprint those mourning their losses differently than others. Some may fall into a depression due to their painful loss or some may have been imprinted so minimally by the occurrence that it doesn’t impact them as severely immediately. The outcome for some survivors of a second hand suicide tend to go on in their lives with issues causing them to not trust others and have difficulty developing relationships (Goode, 2003).

There are services available for direct victims of attempted suicide along with the loved ones affected by it. For those who have attempted suicide there are options depending on the mental state of the patient at the time being. If the patient is high risk to harm themself or attempt suicide again there is the option to hospitalize them where they will then be closely watched and cared for till they are no longer a threat to themselves. For victims who are not high risk, there are options for outpatient care where they are able to live home with their family and receive care along with therapy through the day time. For families affected by suicide there is counselling and therapy available for them so that they are able to talk through their feelings and fear.

Services / Programs

The state of New York provides an abundance of services that cater to victims of suicide attempts. There are hotlines available 24/7 along with support groups, therapy sessions and places to stay if you are feeling suicidal thoughts. There are also programs available to family members who have lost someone to suicide. One service in particular that is open to those who’ve attempted suicide is a called The Suicide Prevention Office. They provide resources for the survivor to get professional mental health care along with primary health and treatment if they experience substance abuse. For families who have lost someone there is a program called

A Safe Place where they are able to freely grieve and cope the loss they have endured.

These services were created to give survivors and grieving families the opportunity and environment to heal. The Suicide Prevention Office was founded in 2014. They are able to help survivors get through their rough patches by having their office coordinate suicide prevention activities which then provides people with the resources needed. A Safe Place, a program for families who are grieving, was started by a New York City organization called The Samaritans. The Samaritans created A Safe Place for those 18 and older who are dealing with the loss of a loved one by suicide. These meetings are held twice a month for free in various locations across New York City. With the help of these programs, along with the hundreds of others offered in New York, are helping all those who’ve been affected by the suicide crisis in the United States to heal.

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