suicide prevention caroline mcarthur

in the united states, there are 121 suicides ever day.

for every suicide, there are 25 attempts.

suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the united states

here in washington county, there is 1 death every 5 days.

so what can we do to help?

Suicide is often caused by diagnosed or untreated depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

Some warning signs of suicide are:

  • Talking about feeling trapped, having no reason to live, etc.
  • Changes in behavior, such as increased use of alcohol or other substances, recklessness, withdrawal of activities, aggression, giving away prized possessions, etc.
  • Changes in mood, such as depression, rage, irritability, anxiety

You or a loved one could be at a higher risk for attempting or committing suicide if:

  • You suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, especially if these conditions go untreated
  • There is substance abuse
  • There are stressful life events (death, divorce)
  • There are prolonged stress factors (harassment, bullying, abuse)
  • There is exposure to another person's suicide or graphic/sensationalized accounts of suicide
  • There were previous suicide attempts
  • There is a family history of suicide

What is standing in our way?

There are several barriers that stand in the way of suicide prevention. One of which is a lack of health care, so individuals suffering from mental health issues that are at a higher risk of committing suicide are unable to receive the help they need. Another barrier is the stigma associated with asking for help. Suicide rates are 3.5 times higher for males compared to females, because of the social pressures that men can face to be "strong" and not seeking out the help that they may need. Additionally, suicidal people usually have easy access to lethal means, such as medication or firearms.

What is already being done?

Associations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) provide a 24/7 national lifeline for those who are in crisis. They also raise money to resources and assistance families who have been affected by suicide, with events such as their Out of the Darkness walk pictured below. They also have volunteers working with local governments and legislators to create programs and legislation to increase awareness and provide more opportunists for individuals to seek out help.

There are also associations such as the Trevor project that specializes in LGBTQ young adults who may be in crisis. They provide a 24/7 national lifeline as well as a messaging system for those in crisis.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Trevor Project Hotline: 1-866-488-7386

Washington County Crisis Line: 503-291-9111

What can we do for our community?

In Washington county, the suicide rate is 8% higher than the national average.

17% of 11th graders have seriously considered attempting suicide.

8% of eight graders have attempted suicide.

Washington county offers free mental health first aide training, both youth and adult, with locations in Portland, Beaverton, and Tigard. I propose that a petition is started to bring to the district office that these training are strongly encouraged, if not required. Mental health first aide training should be as available and encouraged as physical first aide and CPR training.

I would also create flyers with a list of warning signs of suicide, and the three lifeline phone numbers. They will also have a list of resources for people who may be at risk for suicide. The highest rate of suicide is within people aged 45-64, so the flyers should be distributed in grocery stores, coffee shops, parks, and schools.

Sources

  1. America Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 2017. Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/
  2. Washington County Oregon Departments Suicide Prevention. 2017. Retrieved from http://www.co.washington.or.us/HHS/MentalHealth/SuicidePrevention/index.cfm
  3. Trevor Project Foundation. 2017. Retrieved from http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

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