By COURTNEY HINESLEY
ATLANTA – Discussions about the rapidly growing suicide rates in the United States are ongoing, but there is much to know and learn before it can be fully understood.
In the last 18 years, suicide rates have increased by twenty four percent in the Unites States, alone, according to this article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Foreseeing the signs of depression and suicide in a friend or family member may help to decrease these statistics, but it’s up to the public to stay educated.
A federal analysis states that suicide rates in the United States rose to the highest levels in 30 years with increases in almost every age group, except for the elderly, according to a New York Times article.
Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for healthcare at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found an increase in suicide for those in the 45-64 age bracket, partially due to stress over work and personal finances.
An increase in the suicide rates for young girls ranging from 10-14 years of age has been attributed to factors like bullying, which is becoming more prevalent, and the pursuit for a perfect body, often pushed onto girls from a young age.
Graph on increasing suicide rates (photo courtesy of nytimes.com)
The graph above shows an increase in suicides, by age margin, over a period of 15 years. The researchers who put the chart together chose to start the graph in 1999 because their research showed them it was a low point in society for suicide rates.
Most people contemplating suicide look to it as a solution to a deep, underlying pain. According to an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, understanding the suicidal brain is not to study the brain itself, but to study human emotions and the impulses that drive people to commit these actions.
Detecting signs of suicide is becoming more and more relevant in a society where people are ostracized for their body type, sexuality, race and religion.
Three important characteristics differentiate people with depression accompanied with thoughts of suicide from people with depression alone. These include a sense of feeling trapped, the absence of rescue factors and a sensitivity to life events that show signs of defeat.
Suicidal behaviors occur at the crossroads of the past, and the future, according to this British Journal of Psychiatry article. People that battle with suppressed feelings of a regret, past mistakes, or a loss that continuously haunts them, have a hard time overcoming the hump that keeps them out from under a “suffocating blanket,” metaphorically speaking.
Suicide in schools is also becoming a rising issue according to Trina Williamson, a teacher at Long Cane Middle School in Troup County.
“Our teachers are aware of it, our principal is aware of it, and we have put in place a suicide prevention plan to help raise awareness so our teachers are able to detect the signs when we see them,” Williamson said.
According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death within the 10-24 age bracket. In the hopes of helping to stop this epidemic, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Jason Flatt Act in 2015, which became the nation’s most inclusive and mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention legislation. In Georgia, it requires that all educators complete a twoour in-service training process provided by the Department of Education.
There are several non-profit organizations that have vowed to try and reduce the suicide rate by 2050. These organizations fund research into scientific studies that are working to figure out why there is still a stigma surrounding the issue and to determine how to prevent the leading causes of suicide for the future.
Although we don’t yet know the exact cause of depression, research shows that it does show visible changes in the brain when it occurs. Depression can develop for a variety of reasons including a major life change, alcohol, drugs or medications, genetic factors, or completely out of the blue.
Some of the research that experts are providing say that depression is a physical disease. According to an article on yourhealthchoice.com, scientists believe that depressed people exhibit features of inflammation in their brains, which is the body’s response to infection or injury.
In the aforementioned article, Hilton Head therapist, Jocelyn Evans, said that two-thirds of people suffering from depression choose not to seek help.
“If they did seek help, 80 percent of people would experience an alleviation of symptoms,” Evans said.
South Carolina resident Heather Dodson, a worker in the healthcare industry, said she has a mother who suffers from suicidal thoughts.
“It’s a terrible to think that someone you love would want to end their own life,” Dodson said. “People need to be aware of the signs of depression and suicide, so they can catch it before anything happens.”
In the picture below, the blood flow and brain activity of a depressed brain has many gaps in it compared to a normal, functioning brain.
(Photo courtesy of yourlocalhealthchoice.com)
Through education, society can become aware of the mental and physical constraints that depression and suicide can have on a population. People of all ages are affected by depression. It does not have an age, race, or gender.
The demands, stresses and hardships of everyday life affect us all. With the statistics laid out before you, and the rising rates seen across the board, it’s up to you to decide whether to stay informed so that you can take action when you see the signs of depression or suicide in someone you know.