Understanding Suicide: From Risk Factors to Prevention, and How to Get Help

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Understanding Suicide: From Risk Factors to Prevention, and How to Get Help

Suicide has always been a complex and growing problem, however it seems to be an extra prevelant issue in the media right now.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and it is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. (1) While mental health conditions elevate the risk for suicide, it is rarely caused by any single factor. Suicide is a complex and growing problem. The economic and human cost of suicide to individuals, families, and communities makes it a public health issue.

According to a report released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates rose in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016. Only Nevada saw a 1 percent decline. Half of all states saw suicides increase by more than 30 percent since 1999.

There are risk factors that can help us identify people in need of extra support, and sometimes there are warning signs. But diagnosing suicide risk isn’t as simple as performing a well-check on someone. The red flags, if they are there at all, can be very subtle.

Defining the Problem

While most people understand the term suicide to mean voluntarily or intentionally taking one’s life, it’s important to understand the arc of suicidal behavior and the related terminology.

In an effort to increase awareness and understanding of this growing health problem, the CDC compiled a report titled “Self-Directed Violence Surveillance.” (2) It uses the following recommended terminology:

  • Self-directed violence Behavior that is self-directed and deliberately results in injury, or potential injury, to oneself.
  • Non-suicidal self-directed violence This includes behavior that is self-directed and intended to cause injury or has the potential to cause injury, but for which there is no evidence, implicit or explicit, of suicidal intent.
  • Suicidal self-directed violence This includes behavior that is self-directed and intended to cause injury or has the potential to cause injury, with evidence, implicit or explicit, of suicidal intent.
  • Undetermined self-directed violence Behavior that is self-directed and intended to cause injury to oneself, but the suicidal intent is unclear on the basis of the evidence.
  • Suicide attempt A nonfatal self-directed injurious behavior with any attempt to die. A suicide attempt is not always successful.
  • Interrupted self-directed violence A person takes steps to injure themselves but stops him- or herself or is stopped by another person.
Read on: Understanding Suicide: From Risk Factors to Prevention, and How to Get Help | Everyday Health

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