The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom recently died by suicide, have reminded us to pay attention to what has become an epidemic in our country.
We need to better educate ourselves so we can see the warning signs in loved ones and equip ourselves with the tools to help those who are on the brink. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States across all age groups, with nearly 45,000 dying by suicide in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half didn’t have a diagnosed mental health condition. More plainly put, they hadn’t reached out for help.
Iowa isn’t unique. Its suicide rate increased by more than 36 percent from 1999 to 2016, according to the CDC. We are a rural and agriculturally-based state. Farmers and teenage girls are among those most likely to die by suicide.
Look for the warning signs: feeling like a burden to others, isolation, increased anxiety, feeling trapped, increased substance use, seeking out lethal means, personality changes, increased anger and extreme mood swings, giving away belongings, change in sleep habits and talking about wanting to die.
Seeing warning signs? Take talk of suicide seriously. Ask people directly if they are thinking of ending their life. Be supportive and encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. Listen to them, be sympathetic and offer hope. Respond quickly in a crisis, as those with the highest risk of suicide might have a plan already they will carry out.
Optimae Behavioral Health Services is here to help and answer any questions you might have. Their highly skilled staff offers therapy and medication management. Find out how to contact us here.