It’s Suicide Prevention Week- a time set aside each year to raise awareness and encourage open communication about mental health and suicide. Each year nearly 45,000 Americans die by suicide, making it the 10th most common cause of death in the country. This prevalence of suicide deaths is a symptom of an underlying failure in our society when it comes to providing help and resources to those struggling with mental health disorders, past traumas, and other factors that can contribute to suicide.
Substance use related suicides account for 14.9% of the overall methods. While there is no data available regarding intention, there is a clear correlation between co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. As a subsect of the overall mental health crisis affecting the United States, the substance abuse epidemic may have a direct impact on suicide rates in America. Drug and alcohol abuse disorders develop due to poor coping skills and unaddressed mental health issues, creating a cycle of addiction which only compounds the problem. Left unchecked, substance abuse and addiction affects all aspects of one’s life, creating a situation which is difficult to crawl out of alone.
Social stigmas surrounding mental health and substance abuse further complicate the matter, as shame and denial can cause people to suffer in silence until it seems there is only one way out. Suicide Prevention Week is dedicated to combating those roadblocks, creating opportunities for healing, and intervention in potential tragedy. By opening the conversation and informing the public, Suicide Prevention Week is focused on healing, growth, and second chances at life.
For more information about suicide prevention and to learn the potential signs, visit suicideispreventable.org. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273- 8255.