According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans, with more than 36,000 people taking their lives each year. Many people believe that suicide rates are higher during the holidays, but the truth is suicide rates decrease during the winter and peak during the spring. However, many symptoms of depression and anxiety worsen during the winter months. With over 30%-70% of suicide victims suffering from depression, research has shown there is a clear link between the two.
- Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide.
- About two-thirds people who die by suicide are clinically depressed at the time of their deaths.
- Statistically, one out of every sixteen people diagnosed with depression will eventually die by suicide.
- The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population.
- People who have had multiple episodes of depression are at higher risk for suicide than those who have had one episode.
- People who have an addiction in addition to being depressed are at higher risk for suicide.
There is a lot to learn about this significant health problem and how to prevent it. A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is wrong in someone’s life, and eight out of ten people who are considering suicide give a sign of their intentions. Knowing the warning signs is key to understanding suicide. Any of these symptoms by themselves may not mean the person is considering suicide, but a combination of several can be a cry for help.
- Verbal suicide threats such as, “You’d be better off without me.” or “Maybe I won’t be around.”
- Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
- Previous suicide attempts
- Daring or risk-taking behavior
- Personality changes
- Giving away prized possessions
- Lack of interest in the future
We must also raise awareness about suicide prevention and educate ourselves on communicating with those who are suffering. As a trainer for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, Phillip Barham works to implement public health-oriented suicide prevention programs in schools, universities, hospitals, churches, and communities. “People have to understand that suicide is real and is the most preventable kind of death,” says Phillip. “As people learn more and become involved, suicide rates reduce dramatically.” The statewide initiative, QPR, covers a spectrum of awareness raising and primary prevention, to intervention and suicide risk assessment, as well as training in the aftermath of suicide and other trauma.
QPR empowers people to make a positive difference in the life of someone who may be suffering by using three steps:
- Question: Ask, “Do you really want to kill yourself, or do you just want the pain go away.”
- Persuade: Listen to the person without judgment and let them speak freely. Offer a path of hope.
- Refer: If possible, take them to someone they can talk with and someone they trust such as a therapist, doctor or a pastor.
“Teaching people to recognize the warning signs and to have that conversation with someone can steer them in the direction to get the help they need. We live in a society where people don’t want to talk about things until they have to talk about them, and we teach people how to talk about those things,” says Phillip.
There is no single therapeutic approach to treat suicide or suicidal tendencies, however; there are ways to address the underlying illnesses, such as depression, associated with suicide. Research tells us that experiencing one episode of depression places an individual at a 50% risk for experiencing another episode, and further increases the chances of having more depressive events in the future. If depression is left untreated, it can become a chronic illness.
At Pasadena Villa, we use a combination of medication and psychotherapy to treat depression. In conjunction with social integration, we use Cognitive Therapy to diffuse the negative thoughts from depression. Cognitive therapy helps to modify mood patterns by stopping negative, hypercritical, and other types of thinking that can lead to depression. Pasadena Villa’s Social Integration Model TM works in conjunction with psychotherapy to encourage positive social functioning. Residents participate in social, cultural, and recreational activities within the community. These life strategies provide an opportunity for our clinicians to observe and coach resident’s in real time while preparing them for life outside of treatment.
It is essential to understand that suicide is real and the illnesses associated with the risk of suicide are treatable. With awareness and education, we can understand why people reach a point to attempt suicide. As people become involved to help, we reduce the rate of suicide dramatically.
Pasadena Villa is here to help if you or a loved one has questions regarding depression, suicide, or other mental health conditions. Call us at 407-574-5190 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.