Posted by Monique Freemon
Sept. 10 was #WorldSuicidePreventionDay where people shared their personal stories of dealing with suicide on various social media platforms.
The hashtag was created by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to “raise awareness and spread the message that suicide is preventable.” The organization created a video featuring Professor Murad Moosa Khan, the first Asian and Pakistani president of organization. He stated:
[#WorldSuicidePreventionDay] is about bringing together communities, researchers, clinicians, politicians and those in government; individuals with lived experience and those bereaved by suicide to demonstrate a commitment to reducing it, to raise awareness, and to share information about ways to effectively take actions as individuals and community members.
Social media users encouraged people to share their stories in hopes to save lives and breakdown stigmas associated with suicide and mental health. The post volume for #WorldSuicidePreventionDay were predominantly from Twitter. The awareness and prevention hashtag disseminated globally, but the top three locations were from Unknown, the U.S., the U.K., Canada and the Philippines.
The negative (54.3 percent) and positive (45.7 percent) sentiment scores spotlighted how mental health is discussed and interpreted. For example, below shows “#WorldSuicidePreventionDay” and “mental health” in red. These phrases carry a stigma, but are now a platform to build community and support for people struggling with post-suicide bereavement or suicidal thoughts.
Facts, Numbers & Myths: National
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. It is trailing behind heart disease, malignant neoplasms, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD), cerebrovascular (e.g., stroke), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus, and influenza and pneumonia respectively.
It is not only those who commit suicide that suffer, but those who are in post-suicide bereavement too. Newsweek wrote, “…for every person that dies by suicide,135 people suffer ‘intense grief or are otherwise affected.’ This amounts to 108 million people per year.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2017 report, death by suicide was highest amongst men aged 65 and older (31 per 100,000) and women 45-54 (10 per 100,000). American Indian/Indigenous and Alaskan Native– for both male and female– ranked the highest to commit suicide by race. The three most used methods of suicide by sex are males via firearms; and women via poisoning and firearms. Both were even for using suffocation as a method.
Facts, Numbers & Myths: Statewide
Above are the most current statistics from NIMH and the CDC. Based on the trends, suicide ratings in the U.S. are increasing at a steady pace. However, myths and stigma related to mental health issues are being discussed as well. Taking care of one’s mental health is slowly becoming a norm and less of a taboo. For instances, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network provided a list to debunk myths of suicide. One item stated:
Myth: “People who die from suicide don’t warn others.”
Fact: Out of 10 people who kill themselves, eight have given definite clues to their intentions. They leave numerous clues and warnings to others, although some of their clues may be nonverbal or difficult to detect.
The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network reported 1,163 suicide deaths in 2017, which is still the highest record to date. It is one of the leading causes of death amongst people aged 10-19. Suicide by death in Tennessee ranks higher than homicide, motor vehicle accidents and AIDS/HIV. In terms of race, White males are more susceptible to suicide and account for most occurring in Tennessee. TSPN does not have 2018 or 2019 suicide rating reports.
Fortunately, regional and local organizations like TSPN are proactively campaigning for suicide awareness and prevention. They have a regional meetings the first Thursday of every month and are always look for volunteers.
Needing or Seeking Help
If you have thoughts of suicide, wanting to help a friend or in emotional distress call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-8255. For Tennessee, you can connect to the Crisis Text Line by texting TN to 741741. They will connect you to a Crisis Counselor.
If you are helping a friend follow these tips: ask how can you help or if they are suicidal, keep them safe, be there for them, help them connect to constant support, follow up by initialing contact. Check out Newsweek of #BeThe1To for more information.