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Suicide Prevention

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

There are about 30,000 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, which can cause some individuals to attempt suicide.

SOUND BITE:  “Well, there are many, many factors.  Certainly, economics can be a problem.”

“. . . having difficulty with concentration, global insomnia, problems with a loss of interest in usual activities, moderate alcohol use, and anxiety or panic are very high risk factors . . .”

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.

SOUND BITE:  “. . . continue to be supportive and be vigilant and if there is a change in behavior, ask.  Try to find out what is going on.  One of the things I have seen is that as people become ill, being more disconnected or isolative from those who are concerned about them is a very characteristic problem, and so being able to be coginistic or being able to recognize someone in suffering is important.”

Dr. Bennett advises family members or close friends to make sure an individual who might be thinking about suicide gets helps from their primary care physician or a mental health counselor.   Or call 1-800-SUICIDE.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.