Letter to the Editor: Suicide as a Public Health Issue

To the Editor:

Suicide is such a serious public health problem. It causes immeasurable pain, suffering and loss to individuals, families and communities nationwide. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Americans 15 to 24 years of age and more people die from it than car accidents (“Suicide Prevention”). More than 90 percent of individuals who have successfully committed suicide have a diagnosed mental disorder. This is such a common behavior and it is extremely important to bring awareness to suicide prevention in order to get these people the help they need.

Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. Signs such as feelings of hopelessness, sleeping problems, withdrawal, changes in personality or appearance, excessive sadness, etc.

Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. The best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let that person know that he or she is not alone and that you care. It’s very necessary to have a good support system, such as family or friends they can turn to if they need help or to look out for them.

An important tip in suicide prevention is to offer help and support — there are many different resources available such as online support or even a lifeline they can call that offers free and confidential support to people 24/7 (1-800-273-8255). Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility or take them to a doctor’s appointment.

Encourage positive lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress and promotes emotional well-being. Lastly, make a safety plan by helping the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis (“Suicide Prevention,” 2014).

Marissa Buchenic
Nursing student

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