The suicide rate has increased significantly throughout the country, becoming the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on June 7. What is the reason for this? Can these tragedies be prevented?
The CDC analyzed suicide figures from 1999 to 2016. Throughout the country, the total number of cases increased by 30%. North Carolina saw an increase of 12.7%, while in South Carolina the number of these cases increased by 38.3%.
In more than half of these deaths (54%), the affected person did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Of this group, the overwhelming majority (84%) were men.
The CDC report suggests that some of the main risk factors are relationship problems, loss of loved ones, drug or alcohol abuse, and money, work, or health problems.
From the perspective of the Latino community, one of the major problems in this area is the unfortunate failure to seek help for our psychological or emotional problems. In many cultures, males are taught to repress their emotions, to ignore their mental problems, and not to seek help.
There is also the regrettable belief that those who seek to open their hearts and tell their problems to a mentor, spiritual leader, or counselor are weak. On top of that, there is the malicious stereotype that going to see a psychologist is only for “crazy” people; however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health, so you should not push it to the background. Seek help if suicidal thoughts cross your mind.
You should also avoid isolation. If you feel overwhelmed by a cloud of misfortunes, do not think “nobody cares about my problems.” Instead, consider the mathematical formula of the historian Thomas Fuller, who said: “Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.”
If you know someone who is going through difficult times, extend your hand, share your faith, and do not succumb to idle indifference.
If at some point a family member or friend expresses a desire to take his or her own life, take this threat seriously and seek professional help.
PhD Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodríguez is a Clinical Psychologist and Researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reyes-Rodríguez, who is also a columnist for La Noticia’s Vida Sana (Healthy Living) section, shares some warning signs of people with suicidal thoughts: isolation, giving away possessions, mentioning that they would be better off dead, engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as drinking alcohol excessively, cutting themselves, using illegal drugs, having farewell conversations, or talking about when they are no longer around.
If you know someone with suicidal thoughts, or if you feel your problems have you cornered and you do not have a way out, call the National Suicide Prevention Network for help at 1-888-628-9454. You can ask for someone who speaks Spanish.
You can also visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Spanish website.