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September is National Suicide Awareness Month - Please Join Hope Xchange Nonprofit In Preventing Suicide
Hope Xchange would like to welcome and thank guest post writer, Nancy Lambert M.S., CRC, FLT. Contributing Editor: Kerry Martin, Founder, Hope Xchange Nonprofit
Can you imagine waking up every day feeling an exorbitant amount of anxiety? Normally, when we think about someone who is suicidal we think "Oh, they must be sooooo depressed." Sure, probably.
But think about it for a second: sometimes, albeit not all the time, when people are depressed, they are just too tired to get out of bed. They haven’t got the energy to do anything about their situation. When people have anxiety, energy increases as does motivation, commitment and ability to carry through with a plan.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. In 2011, the highest suicide rate (18.6) was among people 45 to 64 years old, with the second rate (16.9) occurring with our seniors, those 85 years and older. In contrast, younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. For example, in that same study year, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 11.0.
Statistics aside, those most vulnerable to suicide are not surprisingly often-bullied LGBT teens and military personnel (due to PTSD). To put this into context:
Suicide Rates for Those Struggling with a Bipolar Diagnosis
As a nonprofit for and by bipolars, we would be remiss not to share the suicide rates in our community. According to the latest scientific research, approximately 25 to 50% of individuals with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, and 11% successfully take their own lives. Our mission is simple: to change these statistics. We accomplish this by developing and piloting innovative, community-based strategies for rebuilding community on a foundation of compassion and caring. Our goal is to break down the wall of silence, shame and stigma surrounding mental illness.
What You May Not Know - Pending Legal / Ethical Dilemmas
While the above statistics and stories are often reported in the media, what is not commonly known is that up to 45% of all people who die by suicide visited their Primary Care Physician within a month of their death (Laoma et al, 2002). And, 20% of those people who died by suicide visited their primary care physician within 24 hours prior to their death, (American Association of Suicidology).
I also wish to include another category of people to watch very closely as we progress in the area of genetic testing. As these tests allow for more accurate genetic diagnosis of inherited diseases and our ability to identify the changes in chromosomes, genes or proteins, people might be more eager to find out if they might “get” a certain disease sometimes years before the symptoms ever appear. Then, what do we do with the “what if” consequences?
What happens if and when people learn they may have the identifying biomarker inside their body? The results of the testing might indicate, for example, that one day a person could get Alzheimer's. Now that person is healthy enough, clear enough and freaked out enough but he or she says to the doc, “No worries, I’m just going to kill myself.” We as health care providers have a huge legal and ethical dilemma to master.
The Bottom Line: People Do Not Fake Wanting to Hurt Themselves
It is not just someone going through a phase. If you ignore the cry for help, it will not simply go away. Suicidal ideations and thoughts are as real as having a blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels throughout the body. These clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs causing damage. So is feeling like the best decision you could ever make in your life -- because you know it is the right one -- is to end your life and commit suicide.
Suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility. Please choose all year round to be aware of those around you in our hectic and harried fast paced lives. When next you say, “Hi, how are you?” please wait for the answer and please hear the response. How hard would that be? Together, with simple kindness and caring, we can help to eradicate suicide and to restore hope to those living without it.
As Rose Tremain said, "Life is not a dress rehearsal."
If you are feeling suicidal, please contact the 24/7 NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE @ 1.800.273.8255.