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Preventing suicide: Eliminating the stigma behind mental illness

In recent weeks, the world has been shocked and saddened by the suicides of fashion icon Kate Spade and celebrity chef/author Anthony Bourdain. While the news cycle may slow down in coverage around these tragedies, addressing the topics of suicide and mental illness are ones that need to stay at the forefront of our public consciousness. 

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health wants to continue this national conversation and help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness, so people reach out and get the care and treatment they so desperately need. 

“Depression is a chronic disease. And similar to other chronic illnesses, if left untreated, depression can be fatal,” explained Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Chief Medical Officer Dr. Yolanda Graham. “Can you imagine telling someone suffering unmanageable pain from rheumatoid arthritis to simply ‘tough it out?’ Depression is no different. Everyone’s life matters. Treatment is available. And we can all play a role to create safe spaces for those who need our support, so they feel comfortable speaking up and getting help.” 

CDC reports rising suicide rates

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent “Vital Signs” report, suicide rates have risen in nearly every state.  

  • From 2014 to 2016, 25 states had suicide rate increases higher than 30 percent.
  • In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Suicide Resource Center states that young people are especially affected. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. 

Varied causes of suicide

The CDC notes that suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse, physical health problems, and job, money, legal or housing stress often contribute to the risk for suicide. However, more than half of those who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. 

“We know that many people who make the decision to end their lives have depression or another chronic mental condition – whether or not it’s been diagnosed,” noted Graham. “Some people might appear to ‘have it all’ and are fully functional with families and friends. It could be the captain of the football team or a CEO of a successful company. Unfortunately, no one sees it coming and, as a result, the impact is devastating. People living with mental illness need to be reassured that there is no shame or fault in having a chronic disease.”  

Getting help; reaching out 

  • For individuals in crisis: Reach out to a friend, family member or family doctor. You are not alone. Your life matters. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • For those who want to help their friends/loved ones: Reach out and check-in regularly. Listen and encourage the individual to seek professional help. To learn more about the warning signs of suicide and appropriate responses for people at risk, visit www.BeThe1to.com or access AACAP’s Suicide Resource Center

Devereux is here to help

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is committed to providing trauma-focused care – along with innovative programs and services – for children, adolescents and adults with emotional and behavioral disorders in community and residential settings. Click here to learn more about our Specialty Mental Health programs and services. 

To learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, and its culture and history of helping individuals and families in need, click here.

  

  

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