World Suicide Prevention Day: Here's how to help

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life.That's at least 800,000 people a year, according to the...

Posted: Sep 10, 2020 2:10 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2020 2:12 PM

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life.

That's at least 800,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization, and the numbers are rising in some parts of the world. In the United States alone, suicide rates have increased by 35% between 1999 and 2018.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls suicide a "growing public health problem."

And that's only part of the grim picture to ponder today, on World Suicide Prevention Day. For each person who has died by suicide, many more people think about or attempt suicide, according to the CDC. In 2018, over 10 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, more than 3 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.

All ages, races and income levels are at risk, with 79% of all suicides occurring lower to middle income countries, according to WHO. And youth can be hardest hit: Suicide is third leading cause of death in 15- to 19-year-olds globally, the agency says.

In addition, experts fear suicidal thoughts may escalate due to economic hardship and stress caused by another lethal crisis facing the world -- Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In May, a national public health group in the US projected some 75,000 Americans might die from drug, alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Unless we get comprehensive federal, state, and local resources behind improving access to high quality mental health treatments and community supports, I worry we're likely to see things get far worse when it comes to substance misuse and suicide," Well Being Trust's chief strategy officer Dr. Benjamin Miller told CNN at the time.

Data collected by the CDC in June found 11% of Americans surveyed had considered suicide in the previous 30 days. Self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults were more likely to have seriously considered suicide (30.7%), followed by young adults between 18 and 24 years old (25.5%), essential workers (21.7%), Hispanics (18.6%) and Blacks (15.1%).

But there are ways each of us can help prevent suicide. Here's how to do your part.

Recognize the risks

There are many risk factors that can lead to an increase in thoughts about taking one's life. It's important to recognize these in yourself or a loved one, experts say, because many people do not talk about their thoughts of suicide in advance.

Does the person have a mood, anxiety, alcohol or other substance use disorder, a major physical illness or a history of trauma, abuse or suicide in the family?

The loss of a relationship may also trigger suicidal behavior, especially for anyone with a sense of isolation or lack of social support.

A person who holds a religious or cultural belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma is at higher risk, according to Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as can feeling that asking for help carries a stigma.

Any previous suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor, according to the WHO, but people can also react to local clusters of suicide or deaths of famous celebrities reported in the media -- deaths by suicide rose by 10% after comedian Robin Williams ended his life in 2014.

Has there been a recent economic blow? That is another risk factor, and a reality facing millions who are out of work right now due to Covid-19-related job loss, social isolation or quarantine.

And research shows that easy access to firearms is also a key risk factor.

Warning signs

Again, not everyone will give their friends and loved ones verbal hints about their suicidal thoughts. That's why it's important to recognize warning signs in actions as well as words.

Be wary if your loved one:

  • Begins to search online for ways to kill themselves, such as buying a gun or obtaining medical prescriptions
  • Increases their use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sleeps too much or too little
  • Starts to behave recklessly, such as driving while intoxicated or without a seat belt
  • Appears agitated, expresses rage or talks about seeking revenge
  • Has extreme mood swings, from euphoria to the depths of depression
  • Appears to feel hopeless or talks about feeling trapped or having no reason to live
  • Appears to be in unbearable psychological pain or talks about being a burden to friends or family
  • Withdraws or isolates from others

Many of these signs may be tough to recognize during the pandemic as families and friends are more isolated and alone. Be sure to call and check on loved ones and listen carefully to their concerns and how they are expressing themselves.

If you are having suicidal thoughts

If you live in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for free and confidential support. It's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For crisis support in Spanish, call 888-628-9454.

TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, can be reached at 866-488-7386.

Crisis Text Line provides a live, trained crisis counselor via a simple text for help. The first few responses will be automated until they get a counselor on the line -- which typically takes less than five minutes. If you are in the US or Canada, text 741741. If you are in the UK, text 85258 and those in Ireland can text 50808. The National Health Service also lists a variety of resources on its website.

Befrienders Worldwide has created a help app that connects users to the nearest emotional support center for the part of the world they live in -- it will run on a PC desktop or mobile phone.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96032

Reported Deaths: 2894
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7063159
DeSoto552159
Harrison382973
Jackson345670
Madison326586
Rankin325677
Lee268368
Jones246879
Forrest245571
Washington221972
Lafayette215439
Lauderdale2044125
Bolivar182366
Oktibbeha177350
Lamar167534
Neshoba1559104
Lowndes152658
Panola146328
Sunflower144546
Warren140250
Leflore139581
Pontotoc125916
Pike123050
Monroe122168
Scott117327
Copiah117133
Coahoma115028
Holmes109558
Marshall109217
Lincoln108353
Grenada107736
Yazoo105530
Simpson102544
Union99324
Tate97637
Leake95338
Adams93037
Wayne89421
Pearl River87353
Marion85735
Prentiss84417
Covington81922
Itawamba79421
Alcorn79111
Newton76723
George76513
Tallahatchie76321
Winston73719
Tishomingo67238
Chickasaw67024
Tippah66517
Attala65425
Walthall59825
Clay58918
Clarke58145
Hancock57721
Jasper56815
Noxubee54816
Smith53114
Calhoun51312
Tunica48313
Claiborne46216
Montgomery45920
Lawrence43112
Yalobusha42814
Perry41918
Humphreys37615
Quitman3725
Stone37012
Greene36617
Jefferson Davis33911
Webster33613
Amite32510
Carroll31512
Wilkinson30318
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2252
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19441349
Mobile13271291
Montgomery8778179
Madison775480
Tuscaloosa7496119
Shelby584951
Lee582961
Baldwin516550
Marshall390944
Calhoun346641
Etowah342047
Morgan325428
Houston278123
Elmore263247
DeKalb239120
Walker228483
St. Clair227837
Talladega212728
Limestone206120
Cullman188519
Dallas177426
Franklin175529
Russell17442
Autauga173825
Lauderdale168233
Colbert163626
Blount159415
Escambia158425
Jackson154611
Chilton153531
Dale135444
Covington134427
Coffee13078
Pike11879
Chambers115142
Tallapoosa114685
Clarke107717
Marion95729
Butler91339
Barbour8577
Winston73712
Marengo70820
Lowndes65327
Pickens65114
Bibb64210
Randolph63713
Hale62828
Lawrence60922
Geneva5995
Bullock59814
Cherokee59115
Monroe5818
Clay5707
Washington55613
Perry5407
Conecuh53111
Crenshaw53132
Wilcox53111
Henry4865
Macon48020
Fayette4438
Sumter43419
Lamar3632
Choctaw34612
Cleburne3396
Greene30315
Coosa1673
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Oxford
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather