Suicide. Attempted suicide. Suicidal thoughts.
All of these terms can make us quite nervous. As parents, as loved ones, as suicide survivors.
Nationally Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with over 1.3 million attempts in 2017 alone. In Utah youth suicide is the second leading cause of youth deaths.
As 5th in the nation for overall deaths by suicide, Utah has seen a 46.5% increase in suicide and attempted suicide since 1999. Every 14 hours someone completes the act, and 2 youth every day succumb to the black ink of statistics.
How did we get here?
Why? Always the biggest question on researchers minds. After several federally funded studies, Utah researchers have found that there is no one factor or theme that runs through every instance. In plain English coping abilities fall short in addressing the stressors of those with mental health conditions.
In a positive light though, the many years of study have shown that with intervention, rates can go down, and quickly. There is light, and hope for the youth of Utah!
What do possible suicide indicators look like?
Signs of suicide or suicidal thoughts can be almost nonexistent. So many times loved ones of completed suicide acts can be completely clueless, with little to no leads on why there was no indicators. Look for these most common signs of suicidal tendencies:
1. Talking about suicide or killing themselves. Even the slightest reference to killing themselves should spur an investigation. Never take these references lightly, especially when accompanied by the following:
2. Increased substance abuse, drugs or alcohol. 1 in 3 suicides involves alcohol consumption. The stats are so convincing that those who screen for suicide tendencies immediately take note especially when accompanied by #3
3. Depression/ bipolar issues. 2 out of 3 suicides also have been noted to have strong depression or recurrent bouts of manic-depressive behavior.
4. Anxiety or guilt. Guilt for causing issues within the family and anxiety in all social and home life situations can be a big instigator in suicidal thoughts. Another key clue is feeling trapped or overwhelming feelings of being a burden on others
5. Purchasing a firearm.
6. Researching different methods on how to accomplish suicide. Usually evident in browser history.
What's behind suicide?
With compounding pressures in our modern world, we often overlook several contributing components of a possibly suicidal mindset. Three main categories exist, the health aspect, environmental contributors, and historical precedence.
Among health aspects, we find prior or undiagnosed mental health conditions, serious physical health conditions (which often include high rates of pain endurance), and even traumatic brain injuries.
Environmental contributors are those things that lead to self-harm tendencies. These often present as prolonged stress, demanding workloads, and harassment. Stressful events like financial strain and crisis, dealing with the breakdown of a family through divorce and other major life transitions, including loss of a loved one, are recurrent thought initiators.
Overwhelming mental loads can also be caused by suicide in the family, childhood abuse, and neglect or trauma. Mental pressure is often harder to fight if there have been previous attempts in the child’s past.
Suicide attempts are 3 times more likely in females but 3 times more successful in males.
Higher elevation has been proven to be a contributing factor in increased suicide rates.
Most attempts at suicide fail – at a rate of 1 successful suicide for every 10-25 attempts.
Treatments need to be customized to each individual. Successful recovery is possible with the right treatment plan like those offered at Lifeline For Youth.
Making connections with others is often one of the best things a person with self-harm thought can do. Building relationships to prevent withdrawing is powerful.
Hope in a dark time.
Lifeline For Youth wants to shed some light on a dark situation. We encourage you and those you love to seek qualified care with trained professionals. Often suicidal youth avoid condemnation and fear of judgment for having suicidal thoughts. Often the people closest to them can be ineffective because of the fact that they are too invested. Many attempted suicide survivors find confidants in strangers or good non-judgmental friends. Just knowing others have had similar thoughts gives hope that they aren’t alone.
Lifeline For Youth knows that family can cause intense stress making depression rates 11 times higher in children. But we also know that strong social support from the family can lower depression or repeat attempts, and build confidence. With structured care, we work for total mental health recovery leading to successful and constructive futures.
How you can help.
One of the largest misconceptions about attempted suicide survivors is that after they receive help and move on in life, there are no more issues. Low times can and will still occur and its good to know how to handle them. Here is a list of things that you can do and encourage in your survivor.
1. Encourage self-care. Discovering new interests and activities that they can enjoy and use to make themselves feel good.
2. Be a proactive listener. Ask questions and really listen. Interest in what’s going on is a great deterrent. The prime objective is to be able to listen without judgment, looking at the person, not the attempt. Focus on the progress being made.
3. Avoid shame or shameful attachments. Often when “confirmed” of the wrong of their choices they will find further grounds for thoughts that they shouldn’t be there.
4. Find a counselor that fits. Not all counselors or counseling methods fit every child.
5. Give hugs. Let the child know they are valued and wanted. Human connection is a necessary and vital part of good mental health recovery.
6. Offer understanding free from blame and guilt. This is a time to focus on the survivor, make it about their success.
7. Have a success plan to help guide them from despair to safety when things get unmanageable.
Even though a sad, but very real aspect of life, attempted suicide can have a very successful outcome. With proper intervention and continued care Lifeline For Youth can help draw the pieces together and create a beautiful future with promise.
Call today for more information. If you feel you are in an emergency situation please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Safe-UT Hotline at 1-801-587-3000.