U.S. suicide rates have increased from 10.97 in 2006 to 13.26 in 2015, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). This kind of increase needs to be discussed and brought into the limelight.
September is suicide awareness month. It is a time dedicated to recognizing and understanding suicide through conversation. While this conversation should be held year-round, having a month is a good place to start, and the discussion not only needs to be continued, but widened.
From 13 Reasons Why to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the majority of society’s discourse relating to suicide surrounds teenagers. We hear stories about high school students getting bullied and adults not paying enough attention.
However, according to the AFSP, a study from 2000 to 2015 shows that those under the age of 20 have the lowest rate of suicide. Rather, the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. This is not the image of suicide being presented by the media and leads to the group being largely ignored.
When having a national conversation about suicide, it’s important to be inclusive of anybody considering, attempting or committing suicide. After all, “a feeling of not being accepted by family, friends or society” is one of the leading causes of depression and suicidal thoughts, according to suicide.org.
This is a conversation that needs to include everyone. We need to be there for those in need. Friends have the instinct to want to help friends. To a certain degree, family and friends can help.
It’s important to pay attention and recognize suicide-warning signs such as an unusual focus on death, withdrawing from others, exhibiting self-destructive behavior or expressing a sudden sense of calm, according to helpguide.org.
Talking to somebody does help when feeling depressed or considering suicide, according to Students Against Depression. It can ease feelings of isolation, offer perspective and provide a support network.
However, that’s not always enough.
Having a network is important, but some people need more. Depression is the cold of mental health, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Mental health councilors and therapists frequently deal with depression, but that means it’s something they know how to help with.
The USF Counseling Center, Victim Advocacy, and Student Outreach and Support offices offer aid for those considering suicide. These services contribute to the discussion.
The conversation is not only between individual people, but society as a whole. This includes those who serve as allies, those who are considering suicide and mental health professionals. Anybody can be part of the conversation and everyone should be.