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How to get help for someone who might be suicidal

09 June 2018

In non-metropolitan areas, suicides were estimated to occur in 20 of every 10,000 residents in 2015.

"And, unfortunately, our data show that the problem is getting worse", Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director at CDC, said at a press briefing, reports Medscape.

Suicide rates have been rising significantly in nearly every state; in both men and women; and across all age and ethnic groups, according to an alarming new CDC report released the same week that both fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain reportedly took their own lives. Percentage increases over this time ranged from just under 6 percent in DE to over 57 percent in North Dakota.

Montana had the highest suicide rate of any state during 2014-16, at 29.2, nearly twice as much as Minnesota's.

Suicide is a major public health issue, accounting for almost 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone. Only one state, Nevada, had a decrease in its rate (1 percent). Quite often, suicide is linked to depression - not uniquely, but in most cases.

Staley said there is truth in Stone's analysis, though he argues the Great Recession and the opioid crisis do not paint a complete picture because both similarly impacted other regions of the country who did not see such drastic increases. She added that intentionality is hard to determine in cases in which a person dies by overdose. Particularly among younger people, Dr. Phillips said, "We are seeing somewhat more tolerant attitudes toward suicide".

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Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and middle-aged adults are especially at risk.

But the according to the report, more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

"We don't hear enough of people who live in good recovery", Sheldon Kennedy, founder of a child-advocacy centre that bears his name and a mental-health advocate, said at the recent CAMH Difference Makers Symposium. Those two states also experienced the second and third biggest increases, more than 48 percent, in the period studied by the CDC.

"We don't have all the answers. It's not just a mental health concern", says Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study.

"Are we going to be courageous enough, bold enough and care enough to actually ask somebody directly about it?" For half of the states, the increase exceeded 30 percent. "People are often anxious that if you ask someone [about suicide] you increase their likelihood of dying by suicide". The gun shops have been receptive, she said.

One of the noteworthy findings of the CDC study is that 54 percent of the suicide victims had no history of mental illness.

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People who choose suicide want to end their pain, not their lives. She also pointed out that middle-aged Americans have higher rates of drug overdoses than other age groups.

"Many of us have been personally impacted by this unfortunate reality", said Greg Lakin, the chief medical officer of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide", the report reads. But public health officials have been training gun shop owners on what to do when a customer might be suicidal.

The high proportion of older people who are white and low rates of religiosity in New Hampshire may also play a role, she said.

The reason that such people and others from all segments of US society feel the need to hide their suffering is because of the heavy stigma that surrounds mental illness, says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco.

Prof Julie Cerel, president of the American Association of Suicidology, noted that having better reporting standards could account for some of the increase, but also pointed to a lack of adequate funding for mental health research and preventative care.

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How to get help for someone who might be suicidal