Updated: Oct 6
September is Suicide awareness & prevention month
On Saturday, September 17, 2022, I participated in the Annapolis “Out of the
Darkness” Walk for suicide prevention and awareness. I walked to show solidarity with those left behind; support for those battling with suicidal ideations; to advocate for behavioral health policies and funding to awareness and prevention programs; most importantly, I walked for myself.
The theme of the walk—Out of Darkness resonated with my decision to seek support. Depression told me lies that my life wouldn’t get better; that I was just
taking up space. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by these toxic thoughts. Every
negative thought chipped away my self-esteem. It became harder to see the
positive things in life. I was waiting for something to “wake me up”.
The go-getter, the confident, cheerful version of me was slowly drifting away and I was exhausted. My thoughts were spiraling, and I felt trapped. I reached out to a friend for support. She didn’t judge me, she listened and encouraged me to follow up with a therapist and a psychiatrist. She saved my life—she saw me and heard me. She met me where I was. After that night, I followed up and began getting treatment for depression and counseling for coping strategies. I made the decision to come “out of darkness” to find joy in the mourning.
For anyone suffering in darkness; know that you are loved, valued, and that your presence makes a difference. Support is available.
In October 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 was signed into law, incorporating 988 into statute as the new Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line phone number. In November 2021, the FCC adopted rules to expand access to text 988 to directly reach the Lifeline to better support at-risk communities in crisis, including youth and individuals with disabilities. On July 16, 2022, all phone companies and text messaging providers are required to route all calls and text messages to “988” to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
To learn more, visit, www.samhsa.gov/suicide.
Suicide affects us all.
Veterans - The suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times higher than that of the general population. About 20 veterans commit suicide a day, and nearly three quarters are not under VA care. (Source)
Teens and Young Adults - Young adults are vulnerable to suicide in part because they tend to experiment with alcohol and drugs, which are often involved in suicides. They tend to be more impulsive and prone to risky behavior than older adults, and they often are dealing with the stress of major life changes as they assume adult roles. (M. Jane Park et al., “The Health Status of Young Adults in the United States,” Journal of Adolescent Health 39 (2006): 305-17.)
Adults over 45 - Many elderly have undiagnosed or untreated depression, which can be intensified by the trauma of losing a spouse or the stress of living with a chronic illness. Elderly adults often lack frequent social interactions that can help protect them against the loneliness that can exacerbate depression. (Source)
Suicide Attempters - Alcohol use, personality disorders, and younger age are risk factors for re-attempting. Additionally, 5% to 11% of hospital- treated attempters do go on to complete suicide, a far higher proportion than among the general public where annual suicide rates are about 1 in 10,000. (Source)
American Indians/Alaska Natives - The overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Native adults is about 20 percent higher as compared to the non-Hispanic white population. o Adolescent American Indian/Alaska Native females, ages 15-19, have a death rate that is three times higher than for non-Hispanic white females in the same age groups. (Source)
Sexual Minority Youth - Sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals) experience increased suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their non-sexual minority peers. (Source)