In the United States, suicide rates will not stop increasing. Over the last few years, suicide has been in the top 10 leading causes of death. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many restrictions have been put in place such as: social distancing, masks, less people in a place at one time, and quarantine mandates. These restrictions have caused an increase in mental health issues such as: anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, and, although we don’t see a see a significant difference in suicide rates compared to before the pandemic, it is harder to determine and put out warning signs of suicide.
*These may indicate that a person is in danger and may need help. If these warning signs apply to someone you know or you need help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK*
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- Talking about having no purpose or feeling useless
- Talking about being trapped or being in pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increase in the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting reckless and anxious
- Aggressive behavior
- Not getting enough sleep
- Social withdrawal from friends and family
- Dramatic mood swings
What you need to know
What is suicide?
Suicide can be defined as death that is caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die. One who attempts suicide does not always commit suicide. Attempting suicide is when one attempts to injure themselves with the intent to die, but does not actually die. Those who attempt or commit suicide go through what is known as, suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation is when one thinks, plans, considers, or talks about suicide.
Important Information about Suicide:
Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.
- In 2018, 48,000 people died do to suicide, becoming the tenth overall leading cause of death in the United States. (figure 2)
- Since 1999 suicide rates have increased almost 40% (Figure 1 above shows the increase from 1981 – 2016)
- In ages 10-34 suicide is the second leading cause of death under unintentional injury and is the fourth leading cause of death in ages 35-54. (figure 2)
- Suicide rates in males are almost 4 times higher than suicide rates for females.
Social Determinants of Health
The social determinants of health are conditions in all the places that one spends their day that can affect someone’s health or quality of life. This includes where one works, lives, learns, and plays. The Social Determinants of Health can be split up into five groups: economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community access.
What do the social determinants of health have to do with suicide?
These social determinants can easily play a role on one’s mental health. For example, stress from school, paying off debt or bills, living in a bad neighborhood, being in a community with conditions that can negatively affect your health or quality of life, worrying about social aspects, and not having good healthcare or health insurance. All of these social determinants put you at higher risk for mental health issues, which also puts you at high risk for suicide. With COVID-19, these social determinants get worse. Kids and adults are learning and working online at home and are stuck in their house all day, people are being laid off do to a decrease in the amount of people allowed to work in one place at one time, people are going outside of their houses less and less, health access is limited or harder to get do to the pandemic. As these social determinants begin to get worse, they begin to also become more important. Now, it is more important to spread awareness of the issue and provide safe ways to help your mind set.
Though suicide is not an issue that can be completely solved, as a community, we can work together to decrease the numbers more and more. By looking out for yourself and others, and even just being aware of the issue, you can benefit more people than you know. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a more stressful time for all of us, these steps of reaching out to others and taking care of ourselves becomes more important. Asking a classmate or someone you don’t normally talk to how their day has been, can mean the world to that one person. Sometimes it’s the little things that really count.
Please click here to take a poll about suicide at your school and answer the questions below in the comments.
- During this pandemic, how often would you say you go outside?
- How often do you interact with others: Family, friends, etc.?
- Do you feel like the pandemic has affected your mental health? If so, how? (Can be good or bad)
- Who is one person you know you can talk about anything with? (Do not have to name names) If you are or were in a situation where you feel you could possibly put yourself in danger, would you be comfortable talking about this with the person of your choosing?
- If you have a counselor at your school, are they easy to reach out to during this time?
- What is one thing that makes you happy?
- Do you have any tips or pointers for those struggling right now?
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
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