The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2013 there were 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States, with suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. According to the American Association of Suicidology, for every death by suicide, there are between 50 and 200 attempts.
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month, C&C’s Public Relations and Fundraising Manager Courtney Yeager sat down with the agency’s Crisis Director Emily Brod, LCSW, to ask the hard questions about suicide.
Courtney Yeager (CY): Is suicide preventable?
Emily Brod (EB): Well, our goal is to prevent suicide as much as possible. What we know is that many people who think about or attempt suicide show one or more warning signs. By becoming aware of and acknowledging these signs and responding, we can significantly decrease the number of deaths by suicide.
CY: Are some people at a higher risk than others to attempt suicide?
EB: Certain risk factors may increase the chance of someone contemplating suicide, and we know that the more risk factors someone might be facing, the higher the risk for suicide. Some factors that increase the risk include health factors such as mental illness, which includes major depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, for example. Substance abuse and chronic pain or medical conditions may also increase risk, as well as environmental factors like prolonged stressors, significant loss and suicide survivorship. There are also historical factors that may have an impact, such as a history of suicide in the family, abuse or a previous suicide attempt.
CY: Does depression lead to suicide attempts?
EB: While many people who struggle with depression do not consider suicide, untreated depression can increase risk for suicide significantly.
CY: Can a suicidal person hide his or her depression from others?
EB: People contemplating suicide or struggling with depression or another mental illness will not always demonstrate the symptoms that their family or close friends might think they would. They may not appear sad, withdrawn or isolative. This is also part of why it’s so important to know what warning signs to look for, especially non-verbal ones. Ask direct questions, while listening and offering to support someone.
CY: Does talking it out with a friend help someone who is having suicidal thoughts?
EB: I feel strongly that talking about suicide directly can deter people from taking their own lives. Be compassionate, non-judgmental and connect them with help — it may be what prevents them from acting on their thoughts.
CY: How can C&C help someone who is contemplating suicide?
EB: Our crisis hotline is staffed 24/7/365 and can offer phone support, face-to-face assessment, and serve as an access point for immediate help and treatment. We encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide, feeling unsafe, or in need of support during a crisis to call us at 1.888.568.1112.