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Suicide - You are Never Alone

Suicide - You are Never Alone
By: Phillip Holman MD
Has suicide hurt your family? Are you having thoughts about suicide known as suicide ideation? Are you surfing the Internet for suicide information?

Missoula Suicide PreventionASHA International states “suicide claims a life every 30 seconds.” In 2005, Montana was leading the US in the number of suicides per state. According to the CDC, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. This translates to over 33,000 people who kill themselves each year, almost double the homicide rates. Youth, 15-24 years, according to the American Association of Suicidology (AAOS), rank suicide as third as a cause of death among these young people. The CDC reported approximately 392,000 suicide attempts presented to emergency departments across the country. It is believed that for every one suicide there are at least 25 more suicide attempts.
Mental illness in 90 percent of suicide cases account for successful suicide. ASHA International states the World Health Organization offers alarming statistics that identify “1 in every 4 people, develops one or more mental disorders at some stage in life.” Across the globe, 450 million people suffer from mental disorders.
What are some of the risk factors for suicide?

  1. History of mental illness, in particular clinical depression. (AAOS research findings suggest that about 60 percent of suicides were depressed. If you are depressed, your risk increases by 50 percent.)
  2. History of alcohol and substance abuse. (Alcoholism increases the risk of suicide in people by 50 to 70 percent compared to the general population. AAOS, 2011)
  3. Social isolation.
  4. Previous history of suicide attempts.
  5. Suicidal thoughts.
  6. Feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  7. Feeling trapped without choices.
  8. Severe anxiety and sleep deprivation.
  9. Physical sickness.
  10. Genetic predisposition.
  11. Unrestricted and easy access to such things as firearms, pesticides and poisons.
  12.  Loss of a relationship, family member or job.
  13. “Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or suicidal thoughts” (CDC, 2011).

Another perhaps potentially overlooked 14th risk factor is the Internet.  In 2008, an article titled “Googling Suicide” noted that “for many lonely or disconnected individuals, the Internet provides respite and relief.” Although there are sources of help on the Internet, there are suicide forums; suicide pacts; suicide ‘how to’ sites; participation with insult chat rooms, suicide baiting where someone dies accidentally from a lethal overdose of a prescription drug while chat room buddies encourage the individual to take more; links to Internet pharmacies offering prescription drugs without valid prescriptions and links to available plant poisons.
If you, a loved one or friend need immediate help, please call 911. The National Institute for Mental Health has a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are looking for less urgent help or are a survivor of suicide impacted by the death of someone, please contact your mental health provider or family physician.
I also offer a free Depression Support group on the second Wednesday of every month. This group meets at Community Medical Center from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm in Physician Building 3, Mountain View Family Medicine Clinic, Suite 101. Please call (406) 327-3920 for further information.
Phillip Holman is a psychiatrist with Community Physician Group at Community Medical Center and medical director of psychiatric services.