DIXON – Millions of Americans are impacted by substance use disorders, mental illnesses and suicide each year.
Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors Recovery Month.
“The goal of Recovery Month is to increase awareness that treatments for substance use disorders and mental illnesses work, and that recovery is possible,” Sinnissippi Centers’ Interim President/CEO Stacie Kemp said in a press release. “But just as important, is to let people know that they can be a great support to someone suffering from a substance use disorder without any special knowledge or training, just by being there. However, getting more information about these diseases and disorders is always helpful for everyone.”
Some facts to consider:
- 60% of rural Americans live in areas with a shortage of treatment professionals. Distance to treatment services in rural areas can be a barrier to getting treatment. Family and friends can play a major role in helping address mental illness and substance use disorders by identifying when someone has a problem.
- Only 20% of those with a substance use disorder get the help they need. There are many barriers, but stigma and lack of coverage or adequate coverage are two major reasons.
- Information for Recovery Month online is available at www.samhsa.gov/recovery-month
“Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about suicide, a leading cause of death for individuals in the United States. Another goal is to inform people about what they can do to help keep their loved ones safe,” Kemp said.
In 2021, a little over 48,000 Americans died due to suicide. In that same year the CDC estimates over 12 million Americans had suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide).
“People who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying or sexual violence are at higher risk for suicide,” Kemp said. “Our goal is ensuring that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help. The more that we openly, honestly and directly talk about suicide, the more we can help to prevent it. We also need to look for the signs of suicide ideation in those around us.”
Some of those signs include:
- someone saying they feel like a burden, being isolated, increased anxiety, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- increased substance use.
- increased anger or rage.
- extreme mood swings.
- expressing hopelessness.
- talking or posting on social media about wanting to die.
Who are the people at risk? Those with:
- depression, other mental health concerns, or substance use disorders.
- chronic pain.
- family history of mental health concerns or substance use.
- family history of suicide.
- exposure to family violence, including physical or sexual abuse.
Others at risk are those who have recently been released from prison or jail and people with a history of suicide attempts or exposure, either directly or indirectly, to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers or celebrities.
“What can you do? Safeguard the people in your life from the risk of suicide and support them: Ask how they are doing, ask about what’s going on in their life,” Kemp said. “Keep them safe as best you can. Just be there for them to listen and be non judgmental, don’t try to ‘fix them’. Help them connect to any treatment or support resources they need. Follow up with them to make sure they are OK.”
A great resource someone in crisis can utilize is the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can call them by dialing 988, sending a text to 988 or even chatting online at 988lifeline.org.
Sinnissippi Centers also has a 24-hour toll free number you can use for someone in crisis: 800-242-7642. Another resource is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website at www.afsp.org. Sinnissippi Centers also maintains an extensive links page for all behavioral healthcare topics at www.sinnissippi.org.
Suicide attempts increase when students go back to school
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the third-leading cause of death among youths ages 10 to 19 in Illinois. With the school year underway, the Illinois Poison Center is offering tips to teachers, parents and caregivers to help prevent suicide attempts.
“Suicide attempts by overdose rise during the back-to-school period and throughout the school year,” IPC Medical Director Michael Wahl said. “For some students, going back to school appears to trigger stress and anxiety, making it even more important that teachers, parents and caregivers are on the lookout for behavioral changes.”
According to the latest Illinois Department of Public Health data, 186 Illinois youths and young adults died by suicide in 2022, with more than 9% of these deaths from intentional self-poisonings.
A 2023 study published in the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examined trends in suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among people ages 10 to 19 before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data showed the rate of suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among people 10 to 19 years old increased 30% in 2021, compared with pre-pandemic rates in 2019, with a 73% increase among children ages 10 to 12.
About 49% were among adolescents ages 13 to 15, and 37% were among females.
Middle school and the first two years of high school showed the largest increases in suicide attempts reported to poison centers. Studies also show that suicidal overdose attempts in children and teenagers increase while school is in session.
A study published in Clinical Toxicology concluded that there was a significant increase in the number of suicide attempts by self-poisoning cases in age groups of 10 to 18 during the traditional school months of September to May, compared with June to August.
“Back to school is an exciting time for many students, but peer pressure, bullying and academic expectations can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety,” IPC Assistant Vice President Carol DesLauriers said. “IPC is here to help and encourages you to access the resources available to keep the loved ones in your life happy and healthy.”
As suicide continues to be a growing public health problem, IPC is sharing the following resources to help prevent suicide and learn how to look for warning signs:
- A guide titled “Illinois’ Youth Resources for Mental Health, Well-Being and Resilience,” developed by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association’s Behavioral Health Advisory Forum, is available on the IHA website along with other relevant resources.
- To specifically address the suicide crisis among young people, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations in 2022 for pediatric health providers to screen everyone ages 12 and older for suicide risk at least once a year.
- IPC’s toxicology specialists provided consultations to hospital staff for almost 12,000 suicidal overdoses (all ages) in 2022. IPC staff serve as toxicology consultants to Illinois health care professionals, whose inquiries represent almost one-third of yearly poisoning cases reported to IPC. Calls to the IPC helpline at 800-222-1222 are free and confidential. IPC experts are available to provide information and treatment advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including holidays.