Suicide rates have increased in the U.S. by 24% in the past 15 years, with a sharper increase since 2006. That is according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Psychiatrist Dr. Nihit Gupta says the increase can be blamed on social media and an increased exposure to suicidal behavior and the opioid epidemic.
He says the best way to prevent suicide is to address it head on.
“I think family is the most critical aspect of suicide prevention, and a family member should not hesitate at all to talk about suicide, to discuss any danger signs that they observe in a loved one,” said Dr. Gupta.
Some of the warning signs of self-injury or suicide include depression, a change in personality, and increased alcohol or drug use.
If you fear someone you know may be suicidal, Dr. Gupta says you should be available to them, remove access to any lethal weapons, and help them get and stay in treatment.
“Some of the kids, some of the adults need six to nine months, sometimes longer, treatment including therapy and medications, and the longer they engage the better prognosis,” said Dr. Gupta.
The study shows that men complete more suicides than women.
Dr. Gupta says this can be attributed to the violent nature with which men usually attempt suicide, but numbers are on the rise for both men and women.
“In the last few years, you’ve noticed that women are completing much more suicide. We don’t know exactly what is causing this increase, but I think overall suicide is a very difficult thing to predict. The most important thing is be very cautious and do not hesitate to communicate clearly and if you have any suspicion, don’t let it go,” said Dr. Gupta.
Dr. Gupta says he thinks suicide rates reflect the mental health of the community and that suicide awareness and education should begin in childhood.