The recent release of the Suicide in Indiana report by State health officials serves as a somber reminder that suicide is the leading cause of death for Hoosiers age 15-54. Tragically, reports of suicide deaths in Indiana increased steadily from 2007-2010, according to the report. Many suicides and suicide attempts are unreported.
“Suicide deaths leave a legacy of unimaginable hurt and guilt in families and communities,” said Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Joan Duwve, M.D. “Information is available to learn more about the warning signs of suicide and how we can all work to prevent it.”
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall in Indiana, the second leading cause of death among 15- to 34-year-olds and the third-leading cause of death for adolescents between ages 10-14, making it an important public health issue. There were 872 deaths due to suicide in Indiana in 2011, according to the 2011 Indiana Mortality Report, up from 867 deaths in 2010.
Suicide is a complex problem, resulting from one or more biological, psychological, environmental, social and/or cultural factors. Certain situations and medical conditions put people at increased risk for suicide. Risk factors include recent crisis or loss, unemployment, severe depression or feelings of hopelessness, family history of suicide, physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse and access to firearms or other lethal means.
“Suicides are devastating to families and communities, so we must all come together to recognize those who need help, and then make sure they are connected to services,” said Dr. Duwve. “The Indiana State Suicide Prevention Plan was published last year to engage everyone including individuals, families, schools and places of worship and employment in the journey from hopelessness to health.”
Suicide warning signs include:
· Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.
· Talking or writing about death or suicide.
· Withdrawing from family and friends.
· Feeling hopeless and helpless.
· Feeling strong anger or rage.
· Feeling trapped – like there is no way out of a situation.
· Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
· Abusing drugs or alcohol.
· Exhibiting a change in personality.
· Acting impulsively or recklessly.
· Losing interest in most activities.
· Experiencing a change in sleeping or eating habits.
· Performing poorly at work or in school.
· Giving away prized possessions.
· Writing a will.
· Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
There is help available for people considering suicide. If you or someone you know exhibits suicide warning signs, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255), the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433), or 911.
If you are concerned about someone, talk about it. Asking the following questions will not cause a person to consider suicide:
· Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?
· When you feel sad, have you ever had thoughts of harming or killing yourself?
· Are you thinking about killing yourself? Have you thought about how you would do it?
Then listen without judging, let the person know he or she is not alone and offer to help find a doctor or counselor or call a hotline together. Several resources are listed within the Suicide in Indiana report (2006-2011) at http://www.in.gov/isdh/21838.htm. Past reports are also available.
“Each of the statistics in the Suicide in Indiana report represents a person, and each person is important to those they left behind,” said Kevin Moore, director of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. “This report will help us to target effective interventions that can help prevent future suicides. People who commit suicide often have untreated depression or substance abuse needs. It is the responsibility of all of us to learn the warning signs and take appropriate action.”