Suicide is a Public Health Problem: Here are Ways You Can Address It and Improve Your Emotional Wellness
by Melissa Howard
Today, approximately 123 Americans will take their lives. Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans, and almost 10 million adults contemplated suicide in 2015. It’s also a public health epidemic that deserves attention. Amidst stigma and misunderstanding, however, addressing suicidal thoughts can be a challenge. So, if you have questions about suicide, here are some answers that may help.
Why is this happening?
Worldwide, suicide is a leading cause of death among people 15 to 29 years of age, accounting for higher rates of global mortality than the total number of fatalities caused by war, acts of terrorism and homicide.
Across opposing social, biological, cultural and environmental factors, those who have either committed suicide or struggled against suicidal ideation share some commonalities — emotional turmoil, substance abuse and, finally, suicidal thoughts. With some exceptions, a lack of emotional health is the root of this global suicide crisis. So, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, mental health management should be a top focus.
How can I improve my emotional health?
Emotions drive our everyday experiences. How we feel can shape the way we interact with ourselves and others, and when those emotions are increasingly dark, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. The key is to nurture your emotions before the light begins to fade. First, examine yourself for these signs of emotional wellness:
- An ability to confide in others about personal thoughts and feelings
- Time management skills and freedom to say “no” to things when necessary
- Consistent feelings of contentment
- Strong social connections
- Habits of regular rest, relaxation and self-care
- Feelings of self-confidence
If you’re a senior, these signs are especially important, as isolation and loneliness are serious issues that plague adults over the age of 65. In fact, roughly 43 percent of adults say they feel lonely on a regular basis, which can have serious effects on both physical and mental health. If you lack these measures, regardless of your age, you may be more at risk for severe depression, which can lead to more severe mood swings and suicidal thoughts
How do drugs and alcohol factor in?
Those who experience depression and major depressive disorders are also more likely to seek distraction relief through substance abuse. But drugs and alcohol only make feelings of depression worse, and often substance abuse can lead to more intense suicidal thoughts and actions. Suicide and alcohol abuse have a causative connection. A study conducted in the last few years even found that 29 percent of suicide victims had blood alcohol levels that indicated legal intoxication at the time of death.
Can treatments or self-care help?
Therapy is one of the best ways to treat mental health issues. Talking to an experienced professional can help you sort out your pain and find a way out of the darkness. If cost is a concern, check your insurance plan to determine your mental health coverage. In some cases, it may be more likely to be covered and less expensive if you see a social worker. Licensed clinical social workers are professionals trained to help those suffering from mental health disorders find coping strategies for emotional issues. They are subject to strict licensures and must achieve a master’s degree in order to practice. If you’re a senior, you may have access to mental health coverage through your Medicare plan, which provides one depression screening a year as well as diagnostic testing and psychiatric evaluations. Anyone with a Medicare Advantage plan, however, is eligible for expanded coverage to support therapy needs.
For those suffering from a mental disorder and substance abuse problems, treatment programs are the best bet for recovery. Most insurance plans also cover treatment options but you should check your plan for coverage details. Often, an outpatient program is more affordable, but in-patient could be more beneficial depending on the severity of your symptoms.
In addition to therapy and professional treatment, you can use self-care practices to fight depression and enhance your emotional wellness. Nourish your body with healthy foods, support your emotions with regular exercise, and make sure you’re getting high-quality sleep.
If you are experiencing feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide, seeking professional help is critical. But you also need to educate yourself around the signs and risks of suicide and poor emotional wellness. You can be the key to stopping suicide for yourself or someone you love.
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