NHM Health Focus: Suicide Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Week (September 6-12, 2009) and World Suicide Prevention Day, (September 10, 2009), are designed to increase awareness of suicide and how it might be prevented.
Suicide is a global problem, a leading cause of death in the world, claiming about 30,000 lives in the United States each year almost 1 million annually world-wide. (Institute of Medicine)
In the last 30 years, the suicide rate among teenagers has tripled. "A recent survey indicated that 60% of high school students have thought of killing themselves. And every two hours, a young person succeeds in taking his or her own life." (PBS)
Suicide rates are highest among Whites [men] and second highest among American Indian and Native Alaskan men. (CDC 2004)
In the African American community, the suicide rate among black men doubled to nearly 8 deaths per 100,000 people between 1980 and 1995, making suicide the third leading cause of death among black men between the ages of 15 and 24. Alvin Poussaint, M.D., a noted Harvard psychiatrist, says that the stigma associated with depression in the black community is a serious problem. “More than 60 percent of black individuals don't see depression as a mental illness, which makes it unlikely they will seek help for it.” Poussaint has written about the problem with Amy Alexander in Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans.
"Depression is an extraordinarily common and serious disorder, which all too often leads directly to death by suicide... The breeding ground for suicide is broad and deep when one considers that only 25 percent of our citizens with depression receive adequate therapy… But we do know that 70 percent of the patients treated for depression see significant decline in their symptoms. We know the medications we use increase the chemical neurotransmitter levels that allow nerves in the brain to communicate with each other. And we know that psychotherapy for less severe non-psychotic patients can be effective." Dr. Mike Magee in Health Politics
Protective factors buffer people from the risks associated with suicide. A number of protective factors have been identified (HHS).
- Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
- Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for those seeking help
- Family and community support
- Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
- Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent handling of disputes
- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation instincts
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to suicide and suicide prevention:
Health Headquarters: Health Focus - Brain Research
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Suicide and Depression
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Depression and School
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Fine Line
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Treatment Options
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Safety
Activities Exchange:Fellows Collection - Alcohol Tolerance in Drosophila and You
Activities Exchange: Fellows Collection - What is Life?
Let's Collaborate: Technology in Education - Bioethics in the Classroom