For the second time in days, we’ve been shocked and saddened to hear of a public figure who has taken their own life. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain each seemingly had everything to live for: Fame, wealth, family, children… But the fact that we don’t completely what drives someone to this ultimate act has been brought into stark relief this week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday that suicide rates increased 25 percent nationally from 1999 to 2016. They rose in nearly every state and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent. In 2016, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides.
54 percent of the people who killed themselves didn’t have a previously known mental health issue. “Instead, these folks were suffering from other issues, such as relationship problems, substance misuse, physical health problems, job or financial problems, and recent crises or things that were coming up in their lives that they were anticipating,” says Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC.
In 2016, the highest suicide rate (19.72) was adults between 45 and 54 years of age – and the rate is increasing especially among women between the ages of 45 and 64. The second highest rate (18.98) occurred in those 85 years or older.
Why are more middle-aged women taking their lives? Women suffer from depression almost twice as often as men. They are more likely to commit suicide just before puberty and during menopause when their sexual identities are changing. One theory on the rise in female suicide rates is that women are under increasing amounts of pressure from their families and their jobs, but internalize those feelings rather than talking about them.
Do they have a history of depression or mental illness?
Do they have a physical illness or poor health?
Have they lost a job?
Are they under a financial hardship?
Have they lost a relationship or are they struggling in one?
Do they mention feeling alone?
Are they withdrawn and isolating?
Do they abuse alcohol or drugs?
Do they mention suicide or having a plan for ending their lives?
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or visit their website and chat.
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