A Look At Suicide - Stoneman Douglas And Beyond

Rising suicide rates are not new in the United States. The recent suicides of two students exposed to the horror at Stoneman Douglas on February 14, 2018, once again reminds us of this issue. According to CDC data, over the past 20 years, we’ve experienced a staggering 33% increase in suicide rates in the United States. Among the most alarming related numbers, the data showed that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death of all Americans. For those under the age of 34, it’s the 2nd leading cause of death and for every 100,000 people in the US, 14 will kill themselves.

To put some added perspective to these overall numbers we’re currently averaging 44,940 suicides per year in the US or 123 per day. That’s a sobering as it is sad but what’s the apparent biggest catalyst behind these suicides? PTSD. People with PTSD are 27% more likely to attempt suicide than the average person. Compare that to other conditions that elevate suicide risk:

  • Schizophrenia: 5%
  • Bipolar: 10%

It really puts into perspective the added burden of people battling PTSD. Here’s one thing that’s really important in this conversation. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 90% of young suicides are the result of mental illnesses. That’s a really big number, especially if mental illness is ignored. PTSD is a mental illness. It’s one of the more difficult to get a grasp on for many families.

The prolonged wars and deployments for military personnel have driven large increases since 9-11. The increase of violence in society has left many people exposed to the condition as well. Just as the case appears to be for many at Stoneman Douglas after the attack. The key is to truly seek treatment once PTSD is realized. 

Something else to consider in conjunction with professional treatment for PTSD is faith. A study of suicides and religion entitled: Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt in the American Journal of Psychiatry had this summation statement: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.

Photo by: Getty Images

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