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Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Also, over half of those who commit suicide do not have a diagnosed mental health condition. How does this happen? What does this mean for the state of mental health care in this country? We can ambiguously discuss the stigma associated with mental illness and watch exaggerated reports shown on the news, but the bottom line is that 54% of people who commit suicide are likely undiagnosed because they were too embarrassed or scared to seek help.

Suicide is a choice; a decision someone makes when they feel they have no other options. In fact, it is the one choice a person can make that takes away the ability to make any other choices or decisions. How do we help those individuals in what feels like interminable and insurmountable pain understand that their lives can still change for the better? How do we address this issue that is killing approximately 44,000 Americans each year?

The first thing we need to do is understand that talking to someone about suicide is not going to make them more inclined to end their lives. In fact, there is evidence to show that individuals contemplating suicide may be more inclined to seek help when the issue is addressed directly, without judgement or fear. If the person has a plan or intent to commit suicide, the first step is to call 911. There are also various crisis hotlines available with trained professionals prepared to talk to someone contemplating suicide (see the end of this post).

We can all work to decrease the likelihood of suicide by being supportive and understanding of our friends and loved ones. We can decrease the stigma around mental illness and convey a message of openness and acceptance to those that are struggling. We can model this attitude by seeking help ourselves when we are struggling to manage any form of mental health concern, rather than allowing stigma and outdated attitudes to prevent us from getting help. No one needs to feel alone when there are so many ways to get help and support at the touch of a button.

One of the most common issues seen in those who are suicidal are feelings of hopelessness. In the moment it seems as though these feelings will never change, that there is no reason to hope. That could not be further from the truth.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or your local crisis hotline. In McHenry County, that number is 1-800-892-8900. If you or someone you know needs mental health care, please call Main St. Psychiatry today to discuss the services and help we can provide.

Original material found at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html