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Suicide Prevention Week

Friday, September 2, 2016

September 5th – 11th is Suicide Prevention Week.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 12.3 minutes. Even more startling is that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.  Furthermore, while the elderly make up 14. 5% of the population, they comprise 18% of all suicides.  Overall, approximately 1.1 million Americans attempt suicide every year and an estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one.  Suicide has a huge impact on society.  

90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.  Mental illness is quite prevalent in American society.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S - 43.7 million, or 18.6% - experiences mental illness in a given year.  In addition, 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. - 13.6 million, or 4.1% - experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits their life.  1.1% of American adults live with schizophrenia and 2.6% live with bipolar disorder.  The most common disorders, however, are major depression, which affects 6.9% of the population and anxiety disorders which affect 18.1%.   Statistics show that mental illness affects men and women, the young and the old, all races and ethnicities, and social economic classes. No group is left untouched.  It impacts life and death on a daily basis in the US.   

Fortunately, most depressive disorders are treatable with psychotherapy, drugs, and other interventions.  But if undetected and untreated, clinical depression can destroy quality of life and exacerbate health problems.  It can lead to the person suffering, withdrawal from others, family disruption, and sometimes suicide.  Because it brings the potential for suicide, depression is a life-threatening illness. The first step to combatting suicide statistics is to talk openly about mental health and seek help.

There's no easy test to differentiate typical behaviors from mental illness.  According to NAMI, each illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents may include the following:

Mental health professionals offer this advice.  Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help.  Important first steps include:  1) Talk with your doctor; 2) Connect with other individuals and families; and 3) Learn more about mental illness, symptoms, and treatment.  

For more information, connect with the National Institute of Mental Health at or the National Alliance on Mental Illness at or the American Association of Suicidology at

Locally, Noyes Mental Health Services can be reached at (585) 335-4316 and Livingston County Mental Health Services can be reached at (585) 243-7250.  If you or someone you know is in danger or suicidal, call 911.  

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327.  

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