NHM Health Focus: Suicide Prevention
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).
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to suicide and suicide prevention:
Health Headquarters: Health Focus - National Public Health Week, Specific Populations