According to recent reports, the suicide rate across the United States is the highest that it has been in 30 years. This tragic spike is being felt hard in places like Greene County, Missouri where the suicide rate went from 52 in 2014 to 79 in 2015. While experts cannot be sure of the precise cause of the increase, it is well known that certain factors can increase one’s risk for suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviors, and mental illness is a key contributor.
If you were to read the local paper and watch the nightly news, you may be a surprised to learn that the number of deaths from suicide outnumber deaths from homicide in Missouri and across the country. This fact is often shrouded because news stations and media outlets report on homicides at a much higher rate than suicides because there is a fear that reporting on suicide may have an encouraging effect.
So although there is concern over giving too much attention to suicide, increased public awareness is crucial to combating the public health crisis of rising suicide rates in places like Springfield, Missouri. World Suicide Day is part of the effort to spread the word about mental illnesses such as depression, which are often a contributing factor to suicidality.
It is hoped that events like World Suicide Day can help to educate the public about issues of mental health so that more people can feel equipped to identify early warning signs of depression and suicidal behavior. The fact is mental illness and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are more common than most people think, and in order to reduce the suicide rates throughout the United States, there must be a greater network of support available for individuals who may be in danger of taking their own lives.
The Problem with Stigma
In order to increase access for quality care for the countless men and women who suffer from suicidal thoughts, more individuals must understand the relationship between mental health and self-harm, and have the education and insight to know how to respond if someone they care about is exhibiting signs of risk.
The issue of suicide is, unfortunately, often clouded with misinformation, and at times suicidal tendencies are viewed with shame. This stigma surrounding mental illness is one of the greatest barriers to individuals receiving what could be life-saving care, but can be significantly reduced by bringing the topic of suicide into the light, and by connecting individuals who are struggling with depression or other mental illnesses with the help they need to manage their symptoms and reclaim their lives.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with suicidal thoughts, know that you are not alone. There are options for treatment in Missouri and across the country where one can access care that can make a world of difference.
However, if you are concerned that you or a loved one is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for immediate support, or contact emergency response personnel in your area.