September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Exact causes of escalating suicide rates are unknown. What is known, however, is that awareness and strategic educational campaigns are significantly absent from academic settings, athletics, religious entities, physician groups, hospitals, social service agencies, insurance companies, and especially corporate America. Ironically and tragically, even many mission-driven behavioral health organizations turn a blind eye to the distress of their own employees. Why? The complexity of moral, religious, social and medical beliefs surrounding suicide render it a topic that is taboo to be openly discussed.
Irrespective of economic, social, spiritual or professional background, the topic of suicide evokes a range of intense and powerful emotions. These emotions often are misdirected to denial rather than action. All humans naturally desire to avoid physical and emotional distress. The uncomfortableness surrounding the topic of suicide among key decision makers in organizations is a critical contributor to furthering barriers to develop a thoughtful, focused, strategy to address this topic. The “forbiddenness” associated with suicide keeps it hidden and silent. Another significant contributor is that emotional wounds do not bleed, scab or “heal” in the traditional sense, but emotional wounds do “bleed”, do “scab” and do “heal”.
Suicide is a majority of the time preceded by stress. Stress from work, family, relationships, financial issues, substance abuse, medical and underlying psychiatric conditions. This stress can be minimized and the serious, adverse consequences averted. Following a suicide, family, friends, classmates, teammates and coworkers are left feeling perplexed, angry, sad and even guilty. “How and why could this happen?” But it continues to happen. Someone in the U.S. commits suicide every 15 minutes. Does suicide represent a moral weakness or character flaw? No! Does suicide represent the possibility that given someone’s genetic makeup superimposed with the right confluence of circumstances that anyone can be susceptible? Yes!
- On average, one physician per day in the U.S. commits suicide1
- On an annual basis suicide represents almost 3x the number of homicides
– 43,000 vs. 16,0002
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group3
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, chronic lung disease combined4
- From 1999-2014 suicide rate for middle aged women ages 45-64 jumped by 63%.
The rate for men in the same time period and age range jumped 43%5
- Suicide rates in girls ages 10-146 tripled from 1999-2014 to 150 suicides6
- Suicide rates among black boys ages 5-11 doubled from 1993-2012 to 657 suicides7
Contact MehraVista Health at 866.684.2007 if you or someone you know is emotionally distressed.