Reach out to those who may be struggling


Most people think of suicide as a catastrophic reaction to a stressful event.

Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says, more than anything, the past week has shown that suicide doesn't discriminate and can potentially affect anyone.

The phenomenon is often referred to as "suicide contagion", defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to "the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family, one's peer group, or through media reports of suicide". Nevada's rate actually went down slightly, the only exception, but still had one of the highest rates. "Many who die by suicide had not recently sought treatment". In New Jersey, the rate of suicide increased by nearly 20 percent during that time period.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends ways to prevent suicide and approach the topic with someone who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts. That's far more than the usual surge of 20 to 30 percent after a high-profile suicide, she said. Arkansas' rate was just outside the top 10, at 21.2 per 100,000 people.

Mental illness tends to be blamed more than it should. For years I was a functional depressive-until I wasn't quite so functional. She told us there's always a need for more facility space. About half of those who died by suicide had no known mental health condition, but it's likelly that many simply hadn't seen a doctor, or the right doctor anyway. The primary goal is to help people understand that it is not an option that you want to take in order to solve a problem.

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In a nation that's become so highly partisan, it seems we've forgotten that we should be looking out for our fellow man-not just the ones who agree with us.

"Searches for precise suicide methods increased after the series' release", wrote the study's authors, while also noting that it was unclear whether an increase in searches equals an increase in actual suicide attempts (though there's typically a correlation between the two).

We can do that much, can't we?

There is availability of many low-priced generic antidepressants, among which many offer only minimum benefit, developing medicines regarding depression is quite tough sell. It could be the friend who was in an abusive relationship or was being bullied, or the father diagnosed with terminal cancer who wanted to go out on his own terms. At the same time, the rate for Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks also rose in 2015 and 2016.These numbers should serve as a warning for states, which administer public health programs, and for the federal government, which funds them. Since December, Arkansas has had a local office to field calls (Wyoming is now the only state without one), so can better direct callers to resources in the state that can help, which could be the difference between life and death.

But reasons for suicide are complex, and anyone can be at risk, regardless of social or socioeconomic status.