What You Should Know About Suicide

On average, nine Californians die by suicide every day, comparable to the number of individuals killed in traffic accidents.  Suicide devastates families and communities.  Suicides occur among all demographic, socioeconomic and ethnic groups.  Contrary to popular belief, suicides are the lowest in December and peak in spring and fall.  Furthermore;

    • The highest suicide rate in California is among adults over 85, often correlated to depression and chronic illness. 

    • Males are three times more likely to die by suicide than females.

    • The largest number of suicides occurs among individuals between 45 and 54.

    • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people 16 to 25.

    • In California, whites have the highest suicide rate, followed by Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Asians, people of two or more races and Latinos

    Irwin Lunianski, M.D., a psychiatrist with the Department of Behavioral Wellness Quality Care Management, suggests that community involvement is essential in combatting suicide:

    • Teachers should monitor students for unusual behavior and link them to counseling when needed.

    • Medical professionals must exercise great caution prescribing potentially lethal drugs, because overdose is a major means of suicide.

    • Community organizations like church groups and YMCA camps can administer questionnaires that include screening for depression and link at-risk individuals to counseling.

    • Examples of societal actions include reducing the prevalence of guns, constructing suicide barriers on bridges and tall buildings and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health conditions.

    Promising Treatments Available

    "As for treatment, the first thing we have to do is find out if a person is depressed, because depression is the most important psychological element of suicide," Dr. Lunianski explains. "Research indicates that it is very helpful for individuals to tell their stories, learn problem-solving skills, change negative thought patterns and be encouraged to engage in social interactions."  Once a person seeks help, some very promising therapies are available, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). 

    Resources

    • If you or someone you know needs mental health services, information or referrals in Santa Barbara County, call the 24/7 Access Line at 1-888-868-1649

    • Suicide awareness and prevention resources are available here in English and in Spanish.

    • The Glendon Association downloadable brochures, How to Prevent Suicide and Como prevenir el suicidio .

    • If you or someone you know is in crisis and may be considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE.

    • HopeNet of Carpinteria is a group of concerned citizens who provide education and resources to prevent suicide. 

    • The California Department of Health Care Services offers a variety of suicide prevention resources focusing on schools, LGBT and senior communities: 

    This article originally appeared in the Carpinteria Coastal View News.