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Suicide: Preventing the Second Leading Cause of Death for Young People

suicide awareness and prevention
*Photo credit: NAMI.org

Each year in the United States, over 44,000 people die by suicide. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, this preventable tragedy is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-34. More teenagers and young adults are dying from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease COMBINED.

Suicide is a major public health concern, and the month of September is dedicated to raising awareness and sharing important information in order to prevent premature death by suicide. We can all make a difference in someone’s life by knowing what to look for and how to help.

Know the warning signs and prevent suicide 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists the following warning signs for a person at risk for suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

We can all prevent suicide 

Suicide can be prevented and all of us can work together to reduce stigma by talking openly and honestly about it. If you think a friend or family member is contemplating suicide, PsychCentral recommends helping in the following ways:

  • Take suicide seriously, and don’t minimize it
  • Know the warning signs
  • Approach the person
  • Be direct
  • Listen
  • Be genuine
  • Help them eliminate access
  • Convey hope
  • Help them get help
  • Call 911 in case of an emergency

If you know someone struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, contact our psychiatric hospitals at (913) 890-7468, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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