Suicide rates bump in spring, after holidays

Last week, Portsmouth Daily Times ran part-one of a two-part series on suicide rates in America, based on monthly trends. We interviewed Belinda Rose, of Compass Community Health, and discussed suicide statistics per season and explained many of the reasons trends spike in spring, but also bump in January.

Part two will highlight what to look for in someone considering suicide, risk factors that impact suicide in people, and resources for people considering harming themselves.

Suicide is a serious epidemic in the United States, where, according to the CDC, 45,979 people died by suicide in 2020, which is one death every 11 minutes. That puts suicide the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.

While the suicide rate is high, the rate of people who considered suicide is far greater. With an expected 12.2 million seriously considering it, 3.2 million making a plan, and 1.2 million making an attempt.

In addition, the CDC reports that there are four hospitalizations for every suicide attempt, eight emergency room visits related to suicide, 27 self-reported suicide attempts, and 275 people who considered suicide.

Men are also four times more likely to die by suicide.

There are multiple factors which can make an individual more at risk for suicidal ideation and attempted suicide. Individual factors, relationships, as well as community and societal factors can all play a part in increasing an individual’s risk for suicidal behaviors.

“Individual factors may include previous suicide attempts,” Rose said. “Some of those include history of depression and other mental illnesses, serious illness such as chronic pain, criminal/legal problems, job/financial problems or loss, impulsive or aggressive tendencies, substance use, current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences, sense of hopelessness, violence victimization and/or perpetration as well as others.”

Rose also explained that harmful or hurtful experiences in relationships contributing to suicidal behaviors can include being bullied, family/loved one’s history of suicide, loss of relationships, high conflict or violent relationships, social isolation, among others.

“Community and societal factors include lack of access to healthcare, suicide clusters in the community, stress of acculturation (the stress that emerges from conflicts when individuals must adjust to a new culture of the host society), community violence, multigenerational traumas experienced by a specific cultural, racial or ethnic group, being discriminated against, stigma associated with help-seeking and mental illness, easy access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk, unsafe media portrayals of suicide and many others,” Rose explained.

While the risk for suicide remains high in spring and in months with a bump in cases, such as January, Rose explained that there are warning signs that you can watch out for.

“The most concerning warning sign leading up to suicidal behavior is when an individual exhibits new or changed behavior especially if there has been a recent loss, painful event or life change. The person’s conversations may be laced with topics like killing themselves, having no reason to live, feeling hopeless, being a burden to others, feeling trapped, or living with unbearable pain,” Rose said. “Some behavior changes may include an increase in use of alcohol or drugs, looking for a way to end their lives like searching online for methods, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, aggression, or fatigue.”

Rose continued, explaining that someone contemplating suicide may have mood changes such as depression, anxiety, loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy, irritability, humiliation or shame, agitation or anger. They may even exhibit a sudden improvement or seem relieved. At times, when a person is deeply depressed, they may be so overwhelmed with depression they don’t have the energy to harm themselves but when they start to improve may be a time to feel concern because motivation and energy start to return. Studies suggest 33 percent of people suffering from Major Depression continue to experience suicidal thoughts after their depression symptoms are in remission.

While there are many common causes behind suicide ideation, Rose explained that there are protective factors that can help a person caught in the trap of suicide ideology.

“There are certain things which are protective against suicidal behavior. Individuals who have access to mental health care and who are proactive regarding their own mental health are at a decreased risk because they have a support network available to them,” Rose said. “Other protective factors include feeling connected to family and community support, ability for problem-solving, having coping skills having limited access to lethal means, and/or having cultural and religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help-seeking, discourage suicidal behavior, or create a strong sense of purpose or self-esteem within the person.

The healthcare professional urged that, if you are concerned about someone you fear may be contemplating suicide, encourage them to seek help. There are several resources available which are free and are available at any time day or night.

Finally, Rose provided an extensive list of professional crisis contacts for anyone in need of assistance.

Some of these resources include The Crisis Center in Portsmouth, which serves Scioto, Lawrence and Adams counties. They offer a 24/7/365 crisis hotline as well as ongoing emotional support and residential services for individuals who are experiencing a crisis.

The Crisis Center can be reached at 740.354.1010 or toll free at 1.855.381.1010.

www.crisistextline.org offers a crisis text line available 24/7 crisis services with volunteer counselors via text or chat. To access their services text HOME to 741741. The Crisis Text Line is available throughout the United States, Canada, UK and Ireland. Additional information is available on their website.

The Recovery Council offers a crisis hotline for residents of Pike County 740.947.2147, Ross County 740.773.4357, Fayette County 740.335.7155, Highland County 937.393.9904, and Pickaway County 740.447.2579. For crisis services contact them at one of the telephone numbers listed.

There is a National Suicide Prevention Hotline individuals can call at 800.273.TALK, 800.273.8255, then press 1. It is also available via text on 838255.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. They are available via text, telephone or chat. They offer services in English, Spanish and for individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired. For TTY Users, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988. They also offer a Veteran’s Crisis line available by Texting 838255. Spanish users may call Línea de Prevención del Suicidio y Crisis 1.888.628.9454.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved