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Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a major public health problem in the U.S. that can be prevented.

There are about 36,000 suicides in the U.S. each year and about 600,000 attempted suicides are treated in hospital emergency departments.  Even when the suicide attempt does not result in death, the individual and family suffer great pain and anguish, says Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, assistant professor of psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He offers some factors that can cause some adults to attempt suicide.

“... people who are older, of the white race who have significant losses or chronic medical conditions, who have recently lost a spouse and live by themselves, . . . substance use such as alcohol use, recent losses such as loss of a relationship, the use of or loss of a job, and the presence of some form of mental illness. . .”

Dr. Bennett says it is very important for individuals who are suffering from mental disorders to see a mental health counselor.  He says there is no specific formula for knowing if someone plans to attempt suicide, but offers this advice to family members.

“... if a family member or friend begins to speak about possibly ending their life or say they are thinking of ways to kill themselves, or they even intimated that life is not worth living or they feel hopeless, those are warning signs that need to be taken very seriously.”

Dr. Bennett advises family members or close friends to make sure an individual who might be thinking about suicide gets help from their primary care physician or a mental health counselor. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Ruth Slottag