Posts tagged ‘suicide prevention’

March 4, 2011

after a suicide

My friend’s co-worker committed suicide this week. It took the authorities a few days to identify the body because he jumped in front of a moving train. My friend told me that his co-worker stopped coming to work a month ago when he checked himself into a hospital for having suicidal thoughts. He was released, but decided to check back in again. The suicide happened sometime after he was released from the hospital the second time around.

I did not know this person, so I can’t really speculate on what could’ve been done to help somehow, even though he did take steps to keep himself safe several times. Only thing I could think to do is to post some facts about suicide prevention on this page.

Some suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include (from the Mayo Clinic):

  • Talking about suicide, including making such statements as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I was dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • Getting the means to commit suicide, such as getting a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
  • Developing personality changes, such as becoming very outgoing after being shy

Warning signs aren’t always obvious, though, and they vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

NIH’s page: has a great compilation of resources regarding suicide.

But perhaps the most important information to post here is the suicide prevention lifeline number: 1-800-273-8255.

September 6, 2010

Countdown to World Suicide Prevention Day

  • Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.
  • In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.
  • Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998, and 2.4% in countries with market and former socialist economies in 2020.
  • Although traditionally suicide rates have been highest among the male elderly, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.
  • Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America; however, in Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.

-World Health Organization

It’s only four more days til World Suicide Prevention Day. I thought I’d at least get some facts about suicide in the next few days since this week is Suicide Prevention Week.

I will be bluntly honest; I tend to think that suicide could be a rational act. But I also know that most are and should be totally preventable. In the coming days, I hope I can at least start talking about how suicide prevention and awareness are much more complicated than handing someone a helpline number (though I’m not saying those aren’t important, because they really are). This topic is certainly not easy to bring up, but if I’m going to say something about it, it might as well be during Suicide Prevention Week.

September 8, 2009

National Suicide Prevention Week is Here

This week is the 35th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week.

Some Facts:

  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 16 minutes.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15- to 24-years-olds.
  • The elderly make up 12.4% of the population, but comprise 16% of all suicides.
  • Approximately 811,000 Americans attempt suicide each year.
  • One person completes suicide every 16 minutes.
  • It is estimated that five million living Americans have attempted to kill themselves.
  • Every year in the United States, more than 17,000 men and women kill themselves with a gun; two-thirds more than the number who use a gun to kill another person.
  • In the U.S., 50% more people die by suicide than by homicide each year.
  • An estimated 5 million Americans are survivors of the suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one.

Some Resources:

American Association of Suicidology
Phone: 202-237-2280

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Phone: 1-888-333-AFSP
Phone: 212-363-3500

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Phone: 1-800-311-3435

National Institute of Mental Health
Phone: 301-443-4513

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Phone: 1-800-487-4890

Office of the Surgeon General/ National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

Source: American Association of Suicidology

April 8, 2009

Leaving the “House” unprepared

Actor Kal Penn is taking a job in the White House, read the headlines yesterday as I browsed the news pages. At that point, it was pretty obvious that the producers of  “House,” the show in which he played Dr. Lawrence Kutner, must have done something to his character on Monday’s episode. And by now most of us have heard that Kutner unexpectedly committed suicide by a bullet to the head, much to his colleagues’ surprise.

Entertainment news columnists have varying opinions about how the show producers handled Penn/Kutner’s exit from the show. I haven’t been watching this season consistently so it’s almost unfair to the show to give an opinion. But I do take issue with one item on this episode that really has nothing to do with the storyline. At the end of this episode, a screen flashes for mere seconds that said something about mental illness (but not about suicide prevention), a phone number and a logo and website for National Alliance on Mental Illness. Actually, all you can really read is “NAMI” from the logo. The information quickly changes to the preview of next week’s episode before any person would be able to write down those resources had they thought they could use them. Because the show did provide NAMI’s web address and number, I figured I’d visit this site to see how they are hoping to help people who watched “House.”

Since a well-watched primetime TV show gave attention to NAMI, I thought that maybe they’ll use that publicity and mention something about it immediately when someone visits the site. Well, there is something about this TV show on the front page, but it has nothing to do with Dr. Kutner’s suicide. But, you, too, can buy a T-shirt inspired by Dr. Greg House with his House-isms.  Just don’t expect to be able to find the exact info you need in a second. You’ll have to do the navigating of the site yourself.

So you can make a visual comparison to what FOX decided to do with this episode, there was another web sitethat the show advertised after Kutner’s funeral: a Lawrence Kutner memorial website. It comes complete with an obituary, a Dr. Kutner memorial video, among other things. Someone sure spent some time to create such a realistic tribute for a fictional character.

If the show’s producers really wanted to create some awareness about suicide and wanted to follow it up with some useful info, then they failed in that task. Moreover, NAMI could have used this opportunity to further the awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. The episode provided a ‘great’ vehicle to talk about a very serious issue that is hard to talk about so openly, yet a national organization that should be best at strategizing to move this vehicle forward did absolutely nothing, except to sell a t-shirt that says, “Normal is Overrated.”

It would have taken the web site person mere minutes to put something up on the index page of the NAMI website. More I think about it, it seems like those pharmaceutical companies who put out those drug ads are doing a better job at bringing forward the topic of mental illness. I understand that these big pharmas have so much more money than the non-profits who have little money  yet work tirelessly to bring about a topic that is still not easy to talk about. In this case, however, it wasn’t the money that failed them. They just missed an opportunity that was handed to them.

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