Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  This is an opportunity to discuss a topic that most of us find very uncomfortable but that is a huge health concern in our country…Suicide. We don’t yet have information about how the current pandemic may be affecting these statistics. The most current information is from studies done in 2017. Here is some information that may be helpful:


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017…

  • Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the US and the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10-34, second only to accidents.
  • In 2017 there were twice as many suicides in the US as there were homicides.
  • Firearms were the most common method used in suicide deaths.
  • While females attempt suicide more often (and most often by overdose), males are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • The suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for Veterans than for non -Veteran adults over age 18.

Some Risk Factors

  • Depression, substance abuse or other mental disorders.
  • Chronic pain
  • A previous suicide attempt or a family history of suicide
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior
  • Family violence
  • Recent release from prison
  • Having firearms in the home

Possible Signs and Symptoms

  • Talk of wanting to die, feeling hopeless, great shame, feeling trapped
  • Talk of being a burden to others
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Giving away important possessions

How to Help

  • ASK them if they’re considering killing themselves. This is very hard to do but you must ask. Do not worry that asking will put the idea in their mind if they’re not already considering it. Studies show it will not. It actually may be what will keep them from attempting.
  • Ask if they have a plan and do what you can to keep them safe by removing access to firearms or other possible methods.
  • Help them get professional help. Suicidal thoughts or actions should never be ignored.


CRISIS TEXT LINE      Text HELLO to 741741

VETERANS CRISIS LINE 1-800-273-8255 Press 1


About Gretchen Derda (Woosley), MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
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