I’m sitting in Hotel California this morning getting ready to go bury a good friend of mine. Donnie was a huge man: great athlete, former football quarterback, but a gentle giant who for 30 years + had ministered to tens of thousands kids at school assemblies and camps. He brought to those young, future American leaders many truths that many heard only from him.
On the surface, Donnie had it all together. But underneath he battled….furiously…..with one of the most deadly and most hated scourges in our society: Depression. A week ago, Depression won, and Suicide took Donnie.
The title of this offering today is actually the title song of the longtime American television comedy/drama “M.A.S.H.” Don’t for a moment believe the song: suicide is FAR from painless. Yet today, suicide is tagged as the 10th greatest cause of death among Americans. Not only did suicide take my friend Donnie this week, it too stole life from fashion icon Kate Spade and food television star Anthony Bourdain. Suicide is here…it’s big…and it’s growing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.
- The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals.
- Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
- On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
- Firearms account for 51% of all suicides in 2016.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular
The highest suicide rate (19.72) was among adults between 45 and 54 years of age. The second highest rate (18.98) occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2016, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 13.15.
No complete count is kept of suicide attempts in the U.S.; however, each year the CDC gathers data from hospitals on non-fatal injuries from self-harm as well as survey data.
In 2015, 505,507 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. This number suggests that for every reported suicide death, approximately 11.4 people visit a hospital for self-harm related injuries. However, because of the way these data are collected, we are not able to distinguish intentional suicide attempts from non-intentional self-harm behaviors.
Based on the 2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Mental Health it is estimated that 0.5 percent of the adults aged 18 or older made at least one suicide attempt. This translates to approximately 1.3 million adults. Adult females reported a suicide attempt 1.2 times as often as males. Further breakdown by gender and race are not available.
Based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months. Girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6% vs. 5.5%) and teens of Hispanic origin reported the highest rate of attempt (11.3%), especially Hispanic females (15.1%) when compared with white students (6.8%) and White females (9.8%). Approximately 2.8 percent reported making a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or nurse. For those requiring treatment, rates were highest for Hispanic students with black males (4.0%) and Hispanic males (2.9%) having higher rates than white male (0.9%) students.
When it comes to suicide and suicide attempts there are rate differences depending on demographic characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity and race. Nonetheless, suicide occurs in all demographic groups.
I am by no means a mental health professional or expert. I can only offer up opinion today. But I DO know for certain that the horrors of suicide are growing at a rapid pace as people of all ages, sexes, national origins, and ethnicities are far more often today than 10 years ago to be faced with suicide. On a national newscast moments ago, I watched as the results of an online survey just asked on this show were posted: approximately 10,000 responses were emailed to the question “Has suicide directly impacted you?” Of 10,000 people who responded, 84% said suicide had directly impacted their lives.
While this data is the most accurate we have, we estimate the numbers to be higher. Stigma surrounding suicide leads to under reporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved.
Again, I am in NO way an expert or have any professional training in dealing with suicide, its causes, and possible treatment. I would first encourage anyone who is having thoughts of suicide or know someone who is to find in your life professional help. Talk to your parent, spouse, pastor, physician about those thoughts. And be honest about your feelings. And if you know someone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide, encourage them to (with you if that suggestion works) speak to a professional in their life.
What to look and watch for can be tricky. There are many possible signs of potential suicide. Depression is often a key ingredient in suicides. But Depression is often hard to spot — especially for non-mental health professionals.
Rather than I just go on and on here repeating signs of suicide in yourself or others and what to do, I give you the link below to take a look for yourself.
In these crazy mass gun killings at schools, without exception AFTER they occur we are told that the shooters showed signs to others before they slaughtered their schoolmates. And those who heard and saw those signs chose to simply do nothing and took no action. Don’t do that in the case of suicide that may appear in your life. If you see some of these signs, take some action. Someone’s life weighs in the balance of what YOU decide.