If you’ve ever considered or attempted suicide please stop, recognize and remember that Life is your only option and solution. In fact Life provides you with a brilliant light, a wonderful love and a never-ending hope to see you through your tomorrow and to embrace the blessings that await you here on earth. Regardless of where you live or your personal circumstance there are 24 hour hotlines to support and assist you. (Listed at the end of this message)
Sadly this crucial message of Life is missed by an estimated 865,000 Americans a year who attempt suicide and the nearly 35,000 who complete their attempts according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More Americans die from suicide than from homicide and in recent weeks, teenagers from ages 13-19 have taken their lives. But why and what can we do as a community to prevent suicide which is attempted by everyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, income or sexual orientation?
The Grim Facts of Suicide
The following statistics are brutal, shocking and alarming but we must know and understand them in order to prevent suicide in our individual communities. The topic of suicide must finally be yanked out the closet of our families and into our living rooms for discussion and solution.
• In America suicide is the 11th leading cause of death.
• Among youth aged 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
• Among young adults aged 25-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
• Among the elderly (65 and above), their suicides account for almost 15.7% of the total.
• Among African Americans, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth aged 10-19.
• Among Hispanic Americans suicide is the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death for those aged 25-34.
• Among Asian Americans, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death.
• Among American Veterans, the suicide rate among 18- to 29-year-old men who left the military is 26% and even those being treated by the Veteran Affairs Department, there is an average of 950 suicide attempts are made each month by veterans.
• Among completed suicides they are highest among older white males
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Health Statistics
National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide
Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education
Veterans Affairs Department
Why Is Suicide An Increasing Option?
“Suicide is an individual act and those pathways that lead to suicide differ explains Dr. Donna Holland Barnes, co-founder and president of the National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide (NOPCAS).
“It could be a number of reasons such as relationship discord, gun availability, all lost of hope for the future such as with the young football player, public humiliation such as with the Rutgers student.” She also adds there could actually be a number of reasons that could lead to a triggering event when an individual is already vulnerable.
However a definitive link has indeed been determined between suicide and depression as explained in a recent report published by the American Association of Suicidology. The organization’s conclusion is that major depression is most commonly associated with suicide and that “The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population.” The study also revealed that “About two-thirds of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths.”
And then there is the Werther Effect or copy cat suicides which are driven when well publicized suicides give rise or permission to others to do the same. “Research tells us that many times suicide rates increase once a celebrity takes their own life.” explains Dr. Barnes. Over the past few weeks there’s been a media frenzy over several teen suicides which have geographically spanned the nation, collectively building public awareness.
Barnes adds that “Suicide is on the minds of many on a daily basis – but few go on and actually complete suicide. So when a well known person kills themself – the vulnerable person passively thinking about suicide turn those thoughts into actively thinking about suicide.”
Two Suicide Survivors Advocate Life
Alan Jones, a Washington, DC minister spiraled into depression after the death of his mother which was preceded by his divorce, an HIV diagnosis and a long stint of unemployment. “It was just too much and I didn’t want to be here anymore. Ultimately what I realized was that it was a cry for help.” After a three day hospital evaluation, Jones collected his thoughts and began to write about his many issues and started to approach life with a different mindset.
“It’s been a journey. I’ve come to realize that suicide is not an alternative for me or a way out for me. I realize I have to stay here and I have to see the end of the matter and outcome of my life.” But Alan also stresses that his depression still exists. He says he’s found a therapist who listens to him objectively and has developed a set of coping skills that have guided him thus far without the use of medication.
Today he shares his story as both an artist and as a minister. But unlike recent suicide victims, Alan was 47 when he attempted to take his life. His advice to anyone including older individuals who are contemplating suicide is: “The best thing I could have done is start talking about it. Your most valuable ally is to find someone of a professional designation who you trust enough to talk to. Someone who does not try to strong arm you but will work with you and not work for you and to help give you the tools to help manage and go on with your life.”
Larry Wilson Jr. of Miami is a prolific erotic author who writes under the penname Dapharoah. He openly confides that he repeatedly attempted suicide throughout his teen years. A victim of sexual abuse for four years at the hands of his stepfather Larry was 28 when he finally told his mother. As a result of the sexual abuse Larry says he became addicted to sex as a teenager and was having sex with adults throughout those years.
“I didn’t love myself and I had a lot of anger when I became a man. I didn’t want to be here. It was too much. No one had a clue.”
Larry estimates he attempted suicide at least 140 times during his teens but “Even though I didn’t want to be here anymore, death scared me. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t go through with it.” After surviving pill overdoses, alcoholic binges and other methods, Larry began to accept Life.
“I had to forgive myself, the abuse wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t beat myself like I did when I was a kid. I had to forgive them
Now at the age of 33 Larry has a new outlook on life. “I’m adult now. I can’t use what happened to me as a kid to dictate the rest of my life. For the most part I know I’ve overcome it. I truly believe in God for that.” He also stresses to young people who are being abused to “tell someone, anyone, tell the mailman, teachers” and not be afraid. He also stresses to parents that they should “know your child, don’t be your child’s friend but be a parent. Sit down and make your child feel comfortable to come talk to you about anything.”
Hence, professional therapy, forgiveness and spirituality are just some of the effective tools suicide survivors use in order to embrace Life as their only option.
Suicide Signs and Hotline Prevention Assistance
According to the Suicide Prevention Life Line, the following are most common warning signs of someone who may be contemplating suicide.
• Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
• Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
• Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
• Feeling hopeless
• Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
• Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities-seemingly without thinking
• Feeling trapped-like there’s no way out
• Increasing alcohol or drug use
• Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
• Feeling anxious or agitated, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes
• Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
Suicide Prevention Life Line
1-800-273-TALK (8255). Press 1 for Veterans
American Association of Suicidology
The Trevor Project
National Association for People of Color Against Suicide
Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education