Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States across all age groups. A total of 44,193 suicides occur each year, or 121 suicides per day.
Substance use is a risk factor for both suicide attempts and death by suicide. Compared with the general population, individuals with alcohol dependence and persons who use drugs have a 10–14 times greater risk of death by suicide, respectively, and approximately 22% of deaths by suicide have involved alcohol intoxication.
So what does all of this mean and why does it matter? Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day that means a lot to me.
It is a day that I breathe a sigh of relief because I am still here. In high school and in college I made two attempts on my life. I was so weighed down with grief from losing my father that despite being a perfect try hard student, nothing mattered. My grief ate me up and told me life wasn’t worth living. I am still here because I didn’t succeed in my attempts and because of my incredible support system.
What snapped me back to reality was the fear of God placed in me when my younger brother had his first suicide attempt. It was the worst moment of my life, to watch someone I loved with all of my heart and soul suffer from the same darkness I did. I decided to become his advocate and do all I could to help him get the help he needed. And in turn, that enabled me to seek help myself and to turn my life around.
So how can we help a friend or family member who is struggling? For me, I would say to just be there for them. To listen to them and to take what they say seriously. To help them navigate getting help and finding a therapist. It is one of the best things you can do for them. And you can encourage them to get sober, to face the struggles they are running from, knowing that you will be there for them every step of the way.
If you or a loved one are struggling today, please call the national suicide hotline at 800-273-8255. They helped me, and they can help you too.