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Help prevent the tragedy of suicide

WASHINGTON, DC — Recent news reports of celebrities and college students taking their own lives highlight the need for vigilance and intervention against the tragedy of suicide. The nation’s emergency physicians treat more than half-a-million suicide attempts every year and urge the public to recognize the signs of suicidal crisis and act right away.

“More than 30,000 people kill themselves every year, which is nearly double the number of homicides in America,” said Dr. Angela Gardner, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Increasing public awareness of the risk may help prevent the tragedy of suicide. Many believe – incorrectly – that suicide rates spike over the year-end holidays. In fact, most suicides occur in the spring.”

Did you know: four times as many men as women die by suicide? The highest death rate by suicide occurs in people ages 65 and older? Living in a rural area elevates the risk of suicide? Having a family member or friend commit suicide raises your risk of suicide? Depression, mental illness and substance abuse are the leading underlying causes of suicide?

Suicide typically comes with warning signs. These include: threatening to hurt or kill oneself, or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself; looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means; talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide; feeling hopeless; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge; acting reckless or engaging in risky activities; feeling trapped — like there’s no way out; increasing use of alcohol or drugs; withdrawing from friends, family, and society; feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time; experiencing dramatic mood changes, including sudden generosity with treasured possessions.

If someone expresses a desire to kill himself, do not leave him alone and do not assume the problem will go away by itself. Even if someone attempts suicide and lives, there can be lasting damage to that person and his community. Attempting suicide also increases the risk of a future suicide attempt

“It’s critically important to take any threats of suicide seriously and to intervene immediately,” said Dr. Gardner. “Someone contemplating taking their own life needs expert attention right away, either at the emergency department or from a professional trained to treat people in suicidal crisis. You might be the person who saves a life by getting a friend or relative the help they need.”

For more information on suicide and other health related topics, go to http://www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.

 

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