I wanted to take the opportunity to comment on the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reporting that the national suicide rate has had a large increase in the last 15 years. This is especially troublesome considering advances in mental health care and increased focus on individuals who have mental illness and are likely to attempt suicide. The problem is that government funding to help treat and alleviate mental illness has not kept pace with inflation or the increased demands of people who suffer from depression. Part of the study put her focus on individuals in midlife who attempt suicide. This comes at the same time as many individuals have been displaced due to economic problems in this country. There are abundant ways to help people to prevent suicide if there are early warning signs and appropriate interventions.
Dr. David Jobes is a noted authority on suicide prevention and has mapped out clear strategies for helping to intervene with individuals to help prevent suicide. There is increased public awareness of resources that can help individuals prevent suicide like the 1-800-Suicide Hotline as well as interventions such as Dr. Jobes has talked about. This is a problem that can easily be decreased instead of increased. Individuals need to be educated about signs of depression not only for themselves but also for their caregivers and for their family and friends so that if they become aware of someone in danger of committing suicide and can either call the hotline themselves or alert the authorities to help prevent suicide. Given there are going to be individuals that for whatever reason are impervious to interventions to help keep them from taking their own life, there always have been and there always will be, but that doesn't negate the need to try to help these individuals to reevaluate the decisions they're making around ending their lives. If they're depressed they need antidepressants and psychotherapy and once those are put in place for individuals who are suffering and thinking or trying to take their own life then they can rationally reevaluate their situation see options there at the moment of choosing to make a suicide attempt are hardly ever apparent.
What to Do:
Have a working crisis or safety plan if you have major depression, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental illness (you can do this in cooperation with your therapist or psychiatrist):
Have at least 3 steps (but not more than 5) to the plan and keep it in a place that is readily accessible.
Keep it someplace where it is easy to access.
Make at least one of the steps involve a mental health professional, and another with someone you trust (if at all possible).
Tell others if you are or have had thoughts of suicide. These can be dealt with successfully in psychotherapy, but it starts with talking to others about them.
What Therapies Help Stop Suicidal Behavior
There are effective therapies for dealing with suicidal ideation and/or suicide attempts. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is one such form of therapy. It effectively can target the ideations and attempts to get at the potential traumatic or disturbing material that triggers the ideation(s) or attempt(s). Another is the modality David Jobes came up with, which is referred to above. It places an emphasis on identifying reasons to live and involves active collaboration between therapist and client to focus on resolving the ambivalence that characterizes most suicidal individuals lives: that between wanting to die and wanting to live so the individual si much more focused on reasons for living. The third is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan. This form of therapy is very good at helping individuals manage the emotional distress and impulsivity that can underlie much of the suicidal and para-suicidal behavior that goes on with people with mental illness. The current epidemic of suicide in our nation can be curtailed, but only if individuals who suffer from it push past the shame and fear of telling others about it to eventually heal and recover.