Someone in the United States dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, each one leaving loved ones behind to struggle with the loss, grief and all of those questions that begin, "Why . . .?"
Too often survivors of suicide loss believe the death of their loved one is somehow shameful or that they or their family are to blame.
However, research shows that more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying - although not always diagnosed - mental illness at the time of their death, most often depression.
We often hear that suicide rates are highest during the holidays.
However, that prevailing wisdom is wrong. Suicide rates are actually at their highest during late spring and early summer, and at their lowest around the holidays.
Risk factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take her or his life. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time. The most frequently cited risk factors for suicide are: mental disorders, particularly Depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, alcohol or substance abuse or dependence, anxiety disorders, impulsivity and aggression, previous suicide attempt, serious medical condition and/or pain. It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.
If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Those in the local area are encouraged to attend a community awareness program hosted by the Fulton-Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force. Suicide Prevention, Education & Awareness: It's Everyone's Business will take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Mary's Carondelet Family Health Care Center, 380 Guy Park Ave., Amsterdam.
For more information, please contact Kathy Cromie, task force chairwoman, at 762-5332, Ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARIANNE REID, board chair,
American Foundation for Suicide
Prevention - Capital Region N.Y.