• Neeley Hughey

Suicide rates spike in Spring not Winter

***If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.******

Research on seasonal effects on suicide rates suggests that the prevalence of suicide is greatest during the late spring and early summer months, despite the common belief that suicide rates peak during the cold and dark months of the winter season.

One possible culprit for feeling low this time of year is seasonal affective disorder: It's typically associated with winter, but warmer temperatures and brighter days aren't always enough to lift the blues. What's more, seeing cheery people all around you is a constant reminder that others are having a good time when you aren't, says Michelle Riba, MD, professor and associate director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center.

According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. In 2017, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. More than 47,000 people took their own lives.

Warning Signs

Here are a few warning signs of suicide: Increased alcohol and drug use Aggressive behavior Withdrawal from friends, family and community Dramatic mood swings Impulsive or reckless behavior Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon Giving away possessions Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts Saying goodbye to friends and family

If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.

Risk Factors

Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:

A family history of suicide Substance abuse. Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts. Intoxication. More than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death. Access to firearms A serious or chronic medical illness Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide. A history of trauma or abuse Prolonged stress A recent tragedy or loss

Support In A Crisis

When a suicide-related crisis occurs, friends and family are often caught off-guard, unprepared and unsure of what to do. The behaviors of a person experiencing a crisis can be unpredictable, changing dramatically without warning.

There are a few ways to approach a suicide-crisis:

Talk openly and honestly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?” Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills Calmly ask simple and direct questions, "Are you thinking of completing suicide?" If there are multiple people around, have one person speak at a time Express support and concern Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong If you’re nervous, try not to fidget or pace Be patient Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t have instructions or resources on how to help or what to expect

If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they’re going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they’re talking. Instead of “arguing” or trying to disprove any negative statements they make (“Your life isn’t that bad!”), try active listening techniques such as reflecting their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.

Let them know that mental health professionals are trained to help people understand their feelings and improve mental wellness and resiliency. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize ineffective patterns of thinking and behavior, validate their feelings and learn coping skills. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom, just like any other — they can be treated, and they can improve over time.

Suicide is not the answer. There is hope. If you or a loved one is feeling depressed-get help now.

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