Ending the Suicide Stigma and Getting Help

A man thinking about suicide stigma.

“We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”

If you are struggling with depression and substance abuse, Corner Canyon Recovery can offer help. Our mental health and addiction recovery center provide research-backed treatment in Draper, Utah. With an experienced clinical team consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists, medical personnel, and licensed therapists, clients receive collaborative, comprehensive treatment. Contact us today to learn more.

The Stigma of Suicide

According to the American Psychological Association, there has been a 30% increase in the rate of death by suicide in the United States between 2000 and 2016. And data from the National Center for Health Statistics and National Institute of Mental Health states that “In 2017, there were 47,173 recorded suicides (though due to the stigma surrounding suicide, it is suspected that it is unreported).”

Not only do many of us know someone who has attempted or died by suicide in our own lives, but it seems that every few months the headlines are filled with a well-known star that has died by suicide. And unfortunately, the stigma attached to suicide and mental illness  .continues to impact people’s willingness to seek help 

The stigma of suicide and mental illness can make it difficult for a person who suffers from suicidal thoughts to ask for help. They might fear rejection, ridicule, discrimination, or judgment from those around them. But is our job to ensure that our loved ones feel less afraid to reach out and that we make them feel accepted and safe if they do. We need to make it known that there is no shame in asking for help when experiencing unbearable pain, hopelessness, and despair. Depression and post-traumatic stress are debilitating disorders that are crippling, unrelenting, and overwhelming.

Risk Factors of Suicide

The American Foundation for Suicide Loss Prevention (AFSP) has made it known that “There is no single cause to suicide. It most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition.” Even people who appear happy, are wealthy, and in good health are not immune to suicidal thoughts. And often it can be hard for loved ones to detect risk factors of suicide, especially when those suffering are afraid to ask for help due to the perpetuating stigma of suicide and depression. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report states that 54 percent of the suicides reviewed in the last decade did not have a mental health issue. “Instead, these folks were suffering from other issues, such as relationship problems, substance misuse, physical health problems, job or financial problems, and recent crises or things that were coming up in their lives that they were anticipating,” said Deborah Stone, a behavior scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study. Other conditions such as anxiety and substance problems also increase the risk of suicide.

A man thinking about the stigma of suicide.

Among the various risk factors for suicide, the AFSP notes three categories that may increase the chance of a person suffering from suicidal thoughts and feelings. These are health factors, environmental factors, and historical factors.

Health factors include mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and more. Other health factors include traumatic brain injuries or serious physical health conditions that are accompanied by pain. By being open with those around us about mental health, we can start a conversation and hopefully reduce the stigma attached to depression and suicide. 

Environmental factors include stressful life events like those mentioned by Stone above. And historical factors such as childhood abuse or neglect and family history of suicide can also play a role.

How You Can Help End the Suicide Stigma

It’s easy to understand that there is a stigma associated with suicide and mental illness, but the more difficult question is to determine what you can do to help. Here are a few things you can do to help end the suicide stigma and potentially impact someone else to get help. 

First, refrain from using the term “committed suicide.” We use the term committed when someone has committed murder or committed rape. When we also use this term with suicide, it implies something morally corrupt. Instead say that a person has “died from suicide,” or “completed suicide.” When we remove the negative connotations with suicide, we help ourselves and those around us become more open to talking about suicide and potentially getting help. 

Another measure you can take to help end the suicide stigma is openly talking about your experiences with depression or mental illness. The more openly we talk about these conditions, the more normal they become.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17.1 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. If we all shared more openly, we would realize that many of us suffer from these conditions at one time or another and it is nothing to be ashamed of. 

A friend helping with suicide prevention.

And finally, another measure you can take toward suicide prevention is just being aware and supportive of those around you. As stated above, suicidal thoughts arise when a person’s stressors outweigh their coping abilities. By being aware of our loved one and what is happening in their lives, we can hopefully notice when stressful situations arise. And when they do, we can be there for support.

Getting Help

By not giving in to the stigma of suicide, those who are suffering are more likely to get help. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to remember that your symptoms are not you. If you are suffering from mental illness, depression, substance abuse, or stressful life events, know that recovery is possible.

At Corner Canyon Recovery, we are dedicated to providing treatment for many mental health and addiction conditions. Our inpatient programs utilize a combination of mental, physical, medical, and emotional health interventions s to get you on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one struggle with addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition, treatment is available. There is hope in recovery. Do not wait. Get help today.

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