Myth! But that myth offers a segue (segway) into a topic especially germane to addicts. By the way, suicide rates are actually the lowest in December. They are highest in the spring and fall. But, no matter what day of the year, suicide is still just as fatal. One out of every five deaths in persons in the 15-24 year old group is due to suicide! That’s 20%! Suicide is the second cause of death among persons aged 25-34 years, the fourth among person aged 35-54 years, and the eighth among person 55-64 years. Suicide is often preventable. Suicide is four times higher among males than females. About 80% of suicides are by males. That does not mean you should ignore or discount risk factors in females. They kill themselves too. Any suicidal ideation or attempts must be addressed promptly and properly. Last year, among youths in grades 9-12, 16% reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months.
Some of the risk factors include: alcohol and/or drug abuse, previous suicide attempts, depression, loss/grief, family history of suicide, being a victim of violence, feeling alone, withdrawing from others, feeling trapped or hopeless (like there is no way out), having uncontrollable rage, having pathological thoughts of revenge, physical illness, anniversary reactions, and others.
What can I do? If you are having suicidal thoughts talk to someone and get appropriate help. Just getting things out in the open can offer you some relief. The Baton Rouge Crises Center Hotline is available to anyone 24/7. That number is (225) 924-3900 or toll free (800) 437-0303.
If you know someone who is suicidal or you think is suicidal, ask about it. Asking about suicidal ideation actually helps. Asking about suicide does not put suicidal thoughts in anyone’s head. And, once things are “out in the open” seek appropriate help. That help often includes treatment for a Substance Use Disorder. Of note is the fact that 33.3% of persons who killed themselves tested positive for alcohol, 21% were positive for opiates, and 23% were positive for antidepressants. Any person with a substance use disorder and suicidal ideation requires inpatient treatment. Why? Because suicide attempts are three times greater in an outpatient program than in a residential program. Addiction is often a fatal disease but it is not a death sentence unless you choose it to be. I’ve talked to many recovery addicts who were seriously suicidal during their active addictions. Serious being defined as being on a respirator or the like. Now they celebrate life and recovery. Want to see some of those grateful folks? Check out an alumni function.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is a great resource for learning about suicide. There are several downloadable fact sheets. That’s www.cdc.gov
Louis Cataldie, MD