While suicide can occur across all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds, certain groups are more at risk than the general population. Statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration highlight three disproportionately affected groups — young adults, individuals experiencing substance use issues in the past year and American Indian/Alaska Natives.
In 2012 SAMHSA found:
1. The percentage of adults having serious thoughts of suicide was highest among young people age 18 to 25 (7.2 percent).
2. Some 2.6 million adults age 18 or older with substance dependence or abuse had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
3. American Indian/Alaska Natives were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to have serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
What’s one of the biggest risk factors for suicide? According to SAMHSA, the answer is substance abuse. While 95 percent of individuals with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder will never complete suicide, several decades of evidence consistently suggest that as many as 90 percent of individuals who do complete suicide experience a mental or substance use disorder, or both.
Tim Tatum, Southeast Regional Chair for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network says, “Suicide is devastating, but there are resources and information available to help prevent it. Suicide prevention in every state and community is important — even the loss of one life is one too many. Recognizing some of these warning signs is the first step in helping yourself or someone you care about.”
No matter where you live, there are steps that can help prevent suicide and make a positive change in your state and community. The loss of someone to suicide resonates among family, friends, co-workers and others in the community; it has been estimated that for each person who commits suicide, 5 to 10 other people are severely affected by the loss. Family and friends may experience a range of painful emotions, such as shock, anger, guilt and depression.
All over the state, TSPN offers presentations and training sessions for schools, churches, and civic groups and partnerships with state departments and other nonprofits. TSPN also networks with faith-based groups to implement suicide prevention strategies, debriefs schools and other institutions affected by suicide death, and promotes awareness and educational events across the state of Tennessee.
For more information on the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, you may visit the TSPN website at http://tspn.org or call Phone: 615-297-1077.
If you or someone you know exhibits any of signs of suicidal behavior, seek help as soon as possible by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
(About the writer: Tanya Southerland is the executive director of Going Respectively Against Abusive Behaviors, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland and Bradley County that combats alcohol and drug abuse in this community. The organization is known by most as the GRAAB Coalition. In observation of National Prevention Week 2014, she is providing a series of guest “Viewpoints” on behalf of the GRAAB Coalition.)