Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Is Over, But the Work Never Ends: How to Help

The CDC found that 12.2 MILLION adults seriously considered suicide in 2020. 45,979 died by suicide. That means someone lost their life to suicide every 11 minutes. Since the COVID pandemic, the reported rate of suicidal ideation is 2x higher than before.

In short, we’re in the middle of a suicide crisis. It’s the number one cause of death for people aged 10-64. For ages 10-14 and 25-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. The World Health Organization found that 1 in 100 deaths worldwide is due to suicide, and more than half of them are by firearms.

The effects of those tragedies ripple out to touch all of us. The National Library of Medicine estimates that 85% of people know someone who has died by suicide.

Who is at risk for suicide?

Suicide doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. But there are some demographic groups who tend to commit suicide at a higher rate. In 2020, The American Foundation for Suicide found that the suicide rate was highest among White males. The next highest rate was among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The suicide rate for males was 4x higher than for females. But among high schoolers, females attempted suicide at a rate 2x higher than males. In general, if someone has a friend or loved one who has died by suicide, they are 3.7x more likely to attempt suicide themselves in the next year (Crosby and Sacks, 1994).

Risk for suicidal thoughts depends on a variety of factors, including a person’s culture, family dynamics, support system, and overall health–mental and physical. For many people who live life with chronic pain, in their body or in their mind, there comes a time where they just want it to stop.

Easy access to lethal tools, such as firearms or medication, is a huge risk factor for suicide. If someone has impulsive or explosive tendencies, such easy access gives them the means to act rashly in response to a temporary situation.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that anyone who lacks impulse control or experiences som pain is a suicide risk. These are simply broad indications of risk–and when they’re combined with other factors, they can be deadly.

How to Lower Suicide Rate

Nobody is immune to depression or suicidal thoughts, but the good news is that suicide is preventable. Prevention starts now, with our everyday behaviors. It starts when we talk about it. Let’s normalize feelings of sadness, and talk to other people about these feelings.

Life is hard. In many ways, it’s harder than it’s ever been to maintain balance and happiness, when we’re busier than ever and we’re constantly attached to the world through our phones.

Here are some things you can do if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts: