The untimely deaths last week of fashion designer Kate Spade and author/chef Anthony Bourdain have once again brought the issue of suicide to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness, reminding us that depression and despair don’t discriminate. And lest we are tempted to categorize suicide as simply a mental health issue, recent studies indicate that is not the case.
The suicide rate in our nation has risen an alarming 25 percent over the last two decades, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the average suicide rate is 12.93 per 100,000, and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 45,000 people taking their own lives each year. For every person who dies of suicide, 25 suicides are attempted, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. An estimated 9.3 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the last year, roughly 3.9 percent of our nation’s adult population.
Here at home, Wyoming has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, with 19.3 suicides annually per 100,000 people. Going back as recently as 2010, Wyoming had the highest suicide rate in the nation, at 23.2 suicides per 100,000 people. In the years between 1999 and 2016, Wyoming’s suicide rate has increased 39 percent.
As staggering as these numbers are, what needs to be shouted from the rooftops is that help is always available to those who seek it. But while that may seem easy enough in theory, the stigmas attached to the myriad of reasons one may feel suicidal often prevent those needing help to seek it.
That’s one reason why we must remain on the lookout for friends, family members and coworkers who are showing signs of struggling with depression.
“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. in a statement on the CDC’s website. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”
Take the time to learn the warning signs of suicide. Information is available in many places, including at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. And also know that someone is always standing by, ready to help. Wyoming’s crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-457-9312. Calls are answered by trained crisis workers.
A national hotline is also available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. Both provide free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. A crisis text line is also available by texting HOME to 741741. Everyone who sends a text will be connected with a crisis counselor.
If you know someone who is stuggling, or if you’re struggling yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out. Depression has no boundaries; it’s not limited to or defined by societal norms or constructs. It can affect anyone, and the more we educate ourselves on what to look for, as well as being someone to listen and support, the more lives can be affected in a positive way. You don’t have to struggle alone. Talk to each other. Reach out.
As cliche as it sounds, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Please do what you can to be part of a positive solution.