BY CONSTANCE BROWN, BSN, RN, CCM, D.C.E.(h. c.)
September is suicide prevention month. The Central Florida Black Nurses Association of Orlando health policy committee and members supports comprehensive efforts to reduce suicide and its devastating effects on Black families. We would like to raise awareness and discuss this topic that is often stigmatized in the Black community. We use this month to spread hope and resources to people affected by suicide. The rate of suicide has increased drastically among Black Americans. Those who experience the catastrophic aftermath of suicide are often left with mental health issues of their own. Suicide is a complicated and tragic public health problem, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.
In a new study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers examined national youth suicide trends and characteristics in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, suicide deaths were increasing dramatically for Black adults in the U.S. The rates have continued to increase during the pandemic. “Over the last decade, suicide rates in the United States have increased dramatically among racial and ethnic minorities, and Black Americans in particular. Suicide deaths occur across the lifespan and have increased for Black youth, but the highest rate of death is among Black Americans aged 25-34 years of age.
Suicide is when people harm themselves with the intent of ending their life, and they die as a result. Suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored. If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
What are the warning signs of suicide or that someone maybe at immediate risk for attempting suicide include: (partial list of warnings).
Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves. Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain Giving away important possessions Saying goodbye to friends and family
What are the risk factors for suicide? People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. The main risk factors for suicide are:
- Depression, other mental disorders, or substance use disorder
- Chronic pain
- Personal history of suicide attempts
- Family history of a mental disorder or substance use
- Family history of suicide
- Exposure to family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
- Presence of guns or other firearms in the home
- Having recently been released from prison or jail
Family and friends are often the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and they can take the first step toward helping a loved one find mental health treatment. See NIMH’s page with resources for finding help for mental illnesses if you’re not sure where to start.
- If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 immediately.
- If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988lifeline.org. You can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line. Orlando Area Crisis Lines and Mental Health Resources 24/7 Phone: (727)791-3131 or (727)541-4628
- 24 Hour Crisis Line (407)425-2624 LifeLine of Central Florida
- Teen Hotline (407)841-7413 ASPIRE Health Partners (407)875-3700
Suicide is a preventable public health problem and it’s time we get proactive in addressing it. If you would like more information on the topic work with your primary care office directly, mental health counselors of contact Central Florida Black Nurses Association of Orlando www.cfbnaoforlando.org