On Thursday, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled suicide as the cause of death for a Rockdale County man who fell 85 feet to his death at a Braves game at Turner Field last month. It must be noted that the medical examiner’s office did not indicate why they concluded it was suicide and his family had previously speculated he had possibly slipped on wet pavement causing him to fall over a railing.
In May, a Buckhead man fell 11 stories from his condo. It,
too, was ruled a suicide, but those close to the situation have questioned those
Still, the unfortunate reality is that at some time in your life, you’ve most likely known someone whose life has been affected by suicidal behavior, and possibly felt the pain associated with it that spreads to family, friends and co-workers alike.
With such in mind, Patch is reposting here this 2012 article from Brandy Smith a Licensed Professional Counselor at Avanti Counseling Services, Inc. in the Oakhurst District of Decatur. She shares information about common traits and statistics of those who attempt or commit suicide, as well as information about “QPR,” a method of responding to those in crisis who are contemplating suicide.
And if you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle and considering suicide, please seek help and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Recent local and national news have brought into the spotlight the unfortunate reality of suicide. Understandably, we like to believe that something as tragic as suicide will not touch our lives. However, statistics indicate that approximately 36,000 suicides are completed each year in the United States, ranking suicide as the 10th leading cause of death for U.S. Americans. This staggering number suggests that there are innumerable survivors of suicide, just like you and me, trying to understand and make sense of what happened.
In this first post of two addressing suicide, I’d like to share some statistics in order to underscore the importance of suicide education.
These statistics and other information are available online at the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Researchers vigorously cull and digest all of the reported information about a person who has suicided. The goal is to increase awareness of risk factors and potential indicators: if we know more about common traits among those who suicide, perhaps we can increase predictability and successfully prevent future suicides.
Not surprisingly, family history can factor strongly into a person’s willingness to take his or her own life. If there is a family history of suicide, mental disorder, or substance abuse, then a person is more likely to attempt suicide. The inheritability of mental disorders including Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Alcohol Dependence are especially relevant, given that more than 90 percent of those who die as a result of suicide have a mental disorder. Family violence, including physical and sexual abuse, increases a person’s risk for attempting suicide. Of particular note is the multi-generational nature of these factors, all of which can be treated. In other words, if these factors were part of your family history, you could intervene through counseling and/or prescription medication in order to alter your family legacy.
Another aspect to consider is the means of committing suicide. While politicians and their constituents argue about the right to bear arms, it is important to note that firearms are the method used in more than half of suicides. This method is slightly more common among men, and accounts for more than 83% of gun-related deaths in the home. Death by firearms is the fastest-growing means of suicide and is typically completed by someone who is not the owner of the gun.
Race can also be a contributing factor to suicidality. Caucasians comprise the largest percentage of suicides, yet Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and African Americans are all impacted by suicide. Men tend to be more successful in their suicide attempts, while women attempt three times as frequently. Male risk increases with age, especially after the age of 65.
Some additional factors to consider:
- Alcoholism is a factor in approximately 30% of completed suicides. Impulse control and aggression (including self-aggression) are impacted by alcohol use;
- Alcohol and other substances are routinely used for self-medicating mood and other disorders, which are highly correlated to suicide attempts;
- Suicidal behaviors of others, including those of family, friends, and media figures, can increase suicidality in those experiencing thoughts of hopelessness and powerlessness. This is called suicide contagion; and,
- Sexuality is a challenging factor to measure in suicide cases due to lack of formal documentation available to researchers. However, published summaries of surveys indicate that lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual adults report two- to six-times as many suicide attempts as their heterosexual counterparts.
While knowledge of suicide statistics is an important, it does not change the fact that suicide is a tragic act of desperation—it leaves all survivors feeling traumatized and disempowered. In my next post, I’ll share with you suggestions for speaking with someone whom you think may be considering suicide. In the meantime, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you’re considering suicide – help is available, and you deserve it.