Suicide doesn’t respect boundaries or discriminate based on age, gender, background, or ethnicity. According to the CDC, 44,000 people committed suicide in 2015, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. However, this epidemic is treatable and reversible. Feeling suicidal isn’t a character flaw and doesn’t indicate weakness or craziness. Suicide is a bad permanent solution to a temporary problem, and the best thing you can do if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts is to get help quickly.
There’s no one cause of suicide but many factors influence someone’s decision to take his or her own life. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention breaks down the risk factors into three categories: health, environment, and history.
Health factors include mental health, chronic pain, or serious physical health issues; traumatic brain injury; substance abuse disorders (SUD); and sleeping difficulties.
Environmental factors include stress resulting from bullying or harassment, financial difficulties, or overwhelming school challenges, as well as stressful life events including the death of a loved one, the end of a friendship/partnership, divorce or separation, job loss.
Other environmental influences are prolonged negative or sensationalized accounts of suicide in the media or community; easy access to lethal tools including firearms or drugs.
Historical factors include a family history of suicide, prior suicide attempts, and/or a history of childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect.
If you experience suicidal thoughts and ideation and think everyone would be better off if you were dead, or you’re searching online for ways to kill yourself, buying a gun or stockpiling medicine and drugs, then you should seek help. If you feel trapped and unable to escape feelings of depression or you’re experiencing unbearable mental or physical pain, reach out.
If you’re sleeping too little or too much or experiencing intense, dramatic mood swings that you’re unable to control, you feel anxious, agitated, or find yourself acting recklessly and impulsively, please ask someone for help.
If you’re withdrawing from friends, family, a social life, and activities you used to enjoy, or giving away your possessions, or visiting, emailing, and calling people to say goodbye, call someone.
The Connection Between Suicide and Drug Addiction
A growing body of research shows a definitive connection between people with substance abuse disorders (SUD) and suicide. Those who abuse sedatives, alcohol, or other depressants are especially prone to triggering depression, which increases suicide risk.
According to Psychology Today, the suicide rate among patients with untreated SUD is as high as 45 percent; only 11 percent of addicts get treatment. People with SUD are approximately six times more likely to commit suicide than non-addicts; of those who committed suicide in 2015, nearly one-third — over 14,000 — were under the influence of drugs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also supports reports that drug use and alcohol abuse are the second leading risk factors (after depression and other mood disorders) for suicide. SAMHSA has recommended that the public health field should use an integrated, concurrent approach to treating people with SUD who are also suicide risks.
Benefits of Seeking Inpatient Treatment for Addiction
There are more than 14,000 facilities in the United States that offer treatment programs for addiction. Many people choose to participate in an inpatient program because it provides:
- 24/7 support, monitoring, and motivation.
- Multilayered treatments including detox and medical treatments, wellness and exercise programs, group and individual therapy.
- A sense of belonging and community of support, because everyone understands the pain and struggles that result from SUD.
- Time to focus on healing by improving emotional wellness and physical health.
- Guidance and skills to reintegrate into a healthier family, work, and social environment that promotes and supports sobriety.
Treatment facilities also provide you with the tools and skills that will help you after you’ve completed the program. Being able to thrive after treatment is essential to recovery, and there are many ways you can stay on top of your health and sobriety. For example, you can join the local YMCA to stay in shape. If you’re a senior with a Medicare Advantage plan, you can enjoy the benefits of your plan’s SilverSneakers program, which allows enrollees to access fitness centers in their area at no extra cost. Treatment will only take you so far — you need to use what you’ve learned to ensure that you stay healthy going forward.
Emotional Wellness Matters
Since the way you feel directly impacts your everyday life, relationships, and overall mental health, it’s important to take care of your emotional wellness. The National Institutes of Health created a Wellness Toolkit with six strategies to improve your emotional health. These strategies can certainly help you manage life’s stresses; however, if you’re thinking about suicide, don’t try to power through those feelings alone. Get help.
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