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Statistics Show Suicide Prevention Awareness Is Urgently Needed
Mental health is a basic human need. Fortunately, there are many resources for staying healthy mentally, and we also know more than ever before about caring for ourselves and spotting someone else at risk of depression or suicide. But the latest statistics on suicide tell us loud and clear we still have much work to be done.
The Center for Disease Control recently released revealing data showing that nearly every U.S. state saw an increase in suicide rates from 1999–2016, totaling nearly 45,000 lives lost to suicide in 2016. What's more, suicide rates increased more than 30 percent in half of the states during this time period, and more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.
Thanks to the CDC's Vital Signs monthly reporting program, these shocking statistics were accompanied with valuable information on what the most common circumstances and contributing factors were that lead to these statistical increases. A crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks, relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, and job or financial issues were identified among those with and without identified mental health challenges.
Unfortunately, firearms were the leading method of suicide death during this time period, accounting for 49 percent of overall fatalities.
The CDC also provided some key parameters for suicide prevention, aimed at reversing this tragic trend. It named community groups as an effective way we work together that can help prevent suicide, including public health, private sector, health care, and community based organizations. Through these strength-in-numbers efforts, we can better identify those at risk, provide education on coping and problem-solving, promote safe and supportive environments, and create collaborative social settings to help people feel connected and not alone. Also, linking people at risk to temporary assistance programs and mental and physical healthcare can make a big difference, as can reaching out to those who have lost a friend or loved one to suicide to make sure they have support during their difficult time.
But how do we know if our friends or family members are at risk? The CDC provided five simple steps to identify and assist our loved ones in their time of need.
First, just ask. Dialogue is crucial in assessing if someone needs help. Second, keep them safe while you help or seek help for them. Third, be there for them and make sure they know they have a supportive person in their life who cares. Fourth, help them connect with support resources so they can get the lasting assistance they need. Finally, follow up. Mental health needs to be an ongoing priority for everyone, and sometimes the smallest gesture like hearing from a friend can mean the world.
Above all, everyone should know that help is available and accessible anytime it's needed. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. If you are part of the music community and you require assistance for a mental health-related issue, contact MusiCares toll-free at 1.800.687.4227 (West), 1.877.626.2748 (South) or 1.877.303.6962 (East).