World Suicide Prevention Day 2023
Cedars-Sinai Expert Weighs in on Suicide Statistics, Prevention and Resources
Suicide rates have increased by nearly 40% over the past 20 years but, according to Carletta Vicain, associate director of Employee Assistance at Cedars-Sinai, suicides are preventable.
Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, Vicain spoke with the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom about some common suicide myths and the importance of suicide prevention.
How prevalent is suicide in the U.S.?
Suicide is a serious public health issue in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2000-2021, suicide rates increased by nearly 40% and suicide was responsible for close to 50,000 deaths, which is about one death every 11 minutes.
In 2021, suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64 and the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 20-34. By raising awareness, reducing stigmas about suicide and encouraging hope through action, we can help reduce suicide rates and suicidal attempts.
What are some common myths about suicide?
There are several common myths associated with suicide:
- A person must have a mental illness to commit suicide.
- Only trained professionals can help individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts.
- Talking about suicide increases the chances that a person may act on it.
- People who talk about suicide are just seeking attention.
- Suicide occurs without warning.
- People who take their own lives are selfish.
- Suicide can’t be prevented.
These myths are simply not true. It’s important that people remember that each of us has a responsibility to take care of the people around us.
What do you think is one surprising factor about suicide that most individuals don’t know?
Most individuals with suicidal thoughts don’t want to die by suicide. According to the CDC, in 2021, of the estimated 12.3 million American adults who thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.7 million attempted suicides.
What are some ways people can build awareness and promote actions to lower suicide rates?
To create hope, we need to gain awareness and have a greater understanding of suicide. There are a lot of myths and stigmas related to suicide. And so, it is important for us to not only work to dispel these myths and stigmas but also provide resources to those around us. When a person is suffering in silence, they need to know that there are alternative solutions. Resources can help individuals understand that they are not alone and there is hope—a way out. We must also ensure we are present for those in need of support. Each of us can create a holistic approach to help prevent suicide by:
- Fostering a sense of connection.
- Checking in with friends and family.
- Creating a space of laughter.
- Honoring each other on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t need to be a grandiose deal. Little things can have a meaningful impact.
- Creating protective environments and promoting healthy connections.
If you see a loved one suffering or notice a change in a person’s demeanor or appearance, reach out and ask if they need help.
What are some resources that are available to help people deal with stress, depression and anxiety?
There are a number of resources that are available to help people in need of emotional support:
- Cedars-Sinai Community Resource: https://cscommunityresource.findhelp.com/
- CDC Suicide Prevention Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/pdf/preventionresourceinfographic.pdf.
- LifeLine: If you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support, trained crisis counselors are available 24/7/365. You can reach them by calling or texting 988 or by email at 988lifeline.org.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center: https://sprc.org/news/be-the-change-how-to-support-suicide-prevention-efforts-this-september/
- Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/category/talking-about-suicide/
Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: What to Do When a Loved One Is Suicidal