The word “suicide” has been in the news lately. In one week alone, we lost fashion icon Kate Spade and renowned foodie and journalist Anthony Bourdain to suicide. They are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 105 Americans die by suicide every day, here are more alarming statistics:
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)
Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TAPS study)
An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
Being a teenager is tough. The changes in your body and brain affect how you learn, think, and behave. Many teens have emotional ups and downs. This is completely common.
But if you have been overwhelmingly sad for a long time (a few weeks to months) and you’re not able to concentrate or do the things you usually enjoy, you may want to talk to a trusted adult about depression. Here are several resources from the National Institutes of Health to help you:
Symptoms of Depression
Sadness is something we all experience. It is a normal reaction to a loss or a setback, but it usually passes with a little time. Depression is different.
If you are wondering if you may have depression, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you constantly feel sad, anxious, or even “empty,” like you feel nothing?
- Do you feel hopeless or like everything is going wrong?
- Do you feel like you’re worthless or helpless? Do you feel guilty about things?
- Do you feel irritable much of the time?
- Do you find yourself spending more time alone and withdrawing from friends and family?
- Are your grades dropping?
- Have you lost interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies that you used to enjoy?
- Have your eating or sleeping habits changed (eating or sleeping more than usual or less than usual)?
- Do you always feel tired? Like you have less energy than normal or no energy at all?
- Do you feel restless or have trouble sitting still?
- Do you feel like you have trouble concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions?
- Do you have aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or stomach problems without a clear cause?
- Do you ever think about dying or suicide? Have you ever tried to harm yourself?
What Do I Do If I Suspect I am Depressed?
Step 1: Try talking to a trusted adult, such as your parent or guardian, your teacher, or a school counselor. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to an adult, try talking to a friend. If you are not sure where to turn, you can use TXT 4 HELP Interactive (www.nationalsafeplace.org/txt-4-help), which allows you to text live with a mental health professional. For more ideas and a list of health hotlines, visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/ (search words: children and adolescents).
Step 2: If you’re under the age of 18, ask your parent or guardian to make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor can make sure you don’t have a physical illness that may be affecting your mental health. Your doctor may also talk to you about the possibility of seeing a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, counselor, psychologist, or therapist. These practitioners can diagnose and treat depression and other mental disorders.
What You Should Do If You Are Considering Suicide or Self Harm
If you are in crisis and need help, call this toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. You can also visit the Lifeline’s website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
The Crisis Text Line is another free, confidential resource available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741 and a trained crisis counselor will respond to you with support and information over text message. Visit www.crisistextline.org.
Not everyone with depression experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms. Others may have many. The symptoms and how long they last will vary from person to person.
How to Help a Friend Who Might be Dealing with Depression
If you think your friend might have depression, first help him or her talk to a trusted adult who can connect your friend to a health professional. You can also:
- Be supportive, patient, and encouraging, even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on.
- Invite your friend to activities, social events, or just to hang out.
- Remind your friend that getting help is important and that with time and treatment, he or she will feel better.
- Never ignore comments about death and suicide, even if it seems like a joke or overdramatic. Talking about suicide is not just a bid for attention but should be taken seriously. Talk to a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher or older sibling as soon as you can.
What If Someone I Know is Considering Suicide?
- If someone is telling you that he or she is going to kill himself or herself, do not leave him or her alone.
- Do not promise anyone that you will keep his or her suicidal thoughts a secret. Make sure to tell a trusted friend or family member, or an adult with whom you feel comfortable.
- Get help as soon as possible. Call 911 for emergency services and/or take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
You can also call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), which is available 24 hours a day, every day. The service is available to everyone. All calls are free and confidential. You can also chat with the NSPL online (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).
The Crisis Text Line is another free, confidential resource available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741 and a trained crisis counselor will respond to you with support and information via text message. Visit https://www.crisistextline.org.
What if I See Suicidal Messages on Social Media?
If you see messages or live streaming suicidal behavior on social media, call 911 immediately, contact the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).
Some social media sites also have a process to report suicidal content and get help for the person posting the message. Each offers different options on how to respond if you see concerning posts about suicide. For example:
- Facebook Suicide Prevention webpage: www.facebook.com/help/ [use the search term “suicide” or “suicide prevention”].
- Instagram uses automated tools in the app to provide resources, which can also be found online at https://help.instagram.com [use the search term, “suicide,” self-injury,” or “suicide prevention”].
- Snapchat’s Support provides guidance at https://support.snapchat.com [use the search term, “suicide” or “suicide prevention”].
- Tumblr Counseling and Prevention Resources webpage can be found at https://tumblr.zendesk.com [use the search term “counseling” or “prevention,” then click on “Counseling and prevention resources”].
- Twitter’s Best Practices in Dealing With Self-Harm and Suicide at https://support.twitter.com [use the search term “suicide,” “self-harm,” or “suicide prevention”].
- YouTube’s Safety Center webpage can be found at https://support.google.com/youtube [use the search term “suicide and self-injury”].
For More Information
For more information on depression and suicide prevention, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website (www.nimh.nih.gov).
- Medline Plus (National Library of Medicine): https://medlineplus.gov/teenhealth (En español: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/teenhealth.html)
- NIDA for Teens, Drugs & Health: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), free 24-hour help
- Anti-Bullying: https://www.stopbullying.gov