Suicidal Behaviors More Common Than Thought
> 9/19/2009 8:04:55 AM

The fact that some 32,000 Americans commit suicide each year is a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, related statistics reveal an even larger problem. Every year 1.1 million Americans attempt to kill themselves, 2.3 million make specific plans for suicide, and an incredible 8.3 million (3.7%, or nearly 1 in 25 American adults) seriously consider taking their own lives.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a survey of more than 46,000 Americans aged 18 and older to uncover these disturbing numbers. Perhaps their most significant finding was the fact that subjects with substance abuse disorders were nearly four times as likely to have considered suicide in the preceding year. The second-most influential factor was age: by a factor of two, more Americans aged 18-25 entertained suicidal thoughts than any other group. Because the survey concerned only those 18 and older, we do not have respective stats for younger teens, but the numbers among that group would certainly shock the conscience as well. Treatment numbers are no more encouraging. Only 62.3% of those who attempted suicide received medical attention, and less than half stayed in a hospital or related facility overnight.
These statistics highlight several crucial mental health issues. They emphasize the importance of early suicide prevention measures, proving that the self-harm fantasies of adolescents and young adults are often quite real and that they may well go unnoticed, falsely attributed to hormonal changes or personality quirks. The overwhelming influence of drug abuse on suicidal tendencies also supports the idea that drug abusers are the primary victims of their own habits and that providing mental health and addiction treatments to nonviolent offenders will be far more productive than sending them to prison. The longer their addictions persist, the more likely they are to consider harming themselves.
Most importantly, these statistics should encourage all who have considered suicide to seek help. The deep depression and isolation that so often precede suicidal thoughts and acts can leave one feeling helpless and abandoned, but the fact that so many Americans struggle with this issue every year should help to dispel the notion that affected individuals are weak or that they will receive no empathy from others. We can only hope that some of those who suffer will take this news as a sign that they are not alone.

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