Suicide has been in the media a lot recently and affects all of us in some way. One person dies by suicide every eleven hours in Kentucky, according to data from the Center for Disease Control. This is three times the rate of people dying by homicide in the state. Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death overall in Kentucky and the state falls eleventh highest in suicides in the nation. In Kentucky, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-14, the fourth leading cause of death for 35-44, the fifth leading cause of death for 45-54, the ninth leading cause of death 55-64, and the sixteenth leading cause of death for 65 and older. These statistics are staggering and they do not even include the rates of people who attempt suicide each year, but the attempt fails. The number of people who attempt suicide each year is twenty-five times the rate of people who complete suicide. Veterans are also at increased risk with 20 veterans killing themselves each day.
There are ways that we can reduce these rates. The first thing is to talk about suicide. Research shows that talking about suicide can reduce the stigma around it. Suicide is not about wanting to die, but instead is about wanting to end the pain. Many people are afraid to talk about suicide because the belief is that if you talk about it, it will increase the odds of someone trying it. This is not true, instead not talking about it increases the feelings of hopelessness and isolation resulting in a greater likelihood that someone will attempt.
The second way is to be aware is to know the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. The factors that can increase suicide risk include: mental health and substance use disorders, serious physical health conditions such as chronic pain, access to lethal means to end life, prolonged stressful situations such as bullying, harassment, unemployment, or relationship issues, stressful life events such as divorce, exposure to someone else’s suicide, previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, and a history of trauma. The warning signs that someone is considering suicide can include: talking about killing themselves, feelings of hopelessness, inability to identify a reason to live, feeling like they are a burden to others, increased use of alcohol or drugs, looking for a way to end their lives, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, aggression, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, agitation/anger and feelings of relief or sudden improvement. Although both of these lists are lengthy, they are not comprehensive. In reality, if your gut tells you that someone may be considering suicide, then you should ask if they are. We all must take an active role in reducing the rates of suicide in our region.
Resources both online and locally that can help with suicidal thoughts include:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Available 24/7, can be utilized as many times as necessary (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Chat: Available 24/7, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Crisis Text: Available 24/7, Text HOME to 741741
Cumberland River Behavioral Health: Available 8am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday-Walk in emergency, outpatient treatment for all ages, Local offices in Corbin (606) 528-7010 and Williamsburg (606) 549-1440
Baptist Health-Trillium Center-Inpatient Psychiatric Hospital for persons age 12 and over, Can walk in to Emergency Room to be assessed
Turning Point-Crisis Stabilization Unit for Children-606 526-1626
Haven House-Crisis Stabilization Unit for Adults-606 878-7013