The report of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington’s suicide yesterday and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell’s suicide in May are two in a long list of high-profile celebrities who have taken their own lives. It also starts discussions about the causes of, and mystery surrounding, suicide itself.
Away from the bright lights and the fame, however, are hundreds of people who do the same thing.
The National Institute of Mental Health names suicide as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2015, claiming the lives of more than 44,000 people.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there is no single cause for suicide, nor can anyone predict when someone will decide to take his or her life. Depression is named as the most common cause, but other conditions, such as health problems, anxiety, a major loss or change, and substance abuse are named as well. When these conditions are undiagnosed and untreated, it can greatly increase the risk of suicide.
The first step is looking for signs that something may be wrong. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers a list of behaviors to watch for in loved ones that should raise a red flag, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
Talking it Out
Suicide can be prevented. Providing support, starting a conversation, and directing loved ones to help can save lives. There are many different types of mental health professionals, including psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage, family, and child therapists licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences and the Board of Psychology, who can help. It’s important to know that not all mental health professionals are the same; you may have to try one or two before you find one who feels comfortable to talk to. The Board of Behavioral Sciences’ booklet, Self-empowerment: Choosing a Mental Health Professional in California, offers some basic questions to ask before deciding.
Get Help. Now.
If you need help or if you know someone in crisis, don’t wait—get help as soon as possible. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at (800) 273-TALK (8255), or send a text to the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. Veterans can get help via online chat, text, or phone from the Veterans Crisis Line; Call (800) 273-8255 or send a text to 838255. Help is available from these sources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services are available to everyone, and all calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.