September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is important to spotlight the public health issue of suicide that is becoming alarmingly more common.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have risen by more than 30 percent since 1999.
Factors like mental illness, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse and stressors like job losses and divorce can all contribute to this rise.
Suicide crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries
Suicide can affect people of all ages and across all income levels.
Mental health itself is borne from a complex interplay of neurochemical imbalances, external stressors and lifestyle choices. A common risk factor in those who attempt suicide is a feeling of isolation; conversely, support from community or friends can
be quite protective to those who are suffering from suicidal thoughts. Having access to weapons or other means for self-harm is also a common risk factor.
Dr. Mia Wise on the rise in suicide rates from Premera on Vimeo.
What to do if you are in distress
If you or someone you know is experiencing elevated levels of anxiety or depression, we have a few different resources to help. Speaking to your primary care physician can be a valuable option, as he or she
understands your medical history and can speak to treatments that might work best for you.
Does your work have an Employee Assistance program? Many of these types of programs provide resources like access to counselors, childcare and legal and financial advice.
The National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 is always available for those who feel like they are at risk of harming themselves. In this case, a trained
crisis worker will answer the phone and listen without judgment.
If you know someone in distress, view bethe1 to learn what you can do in five steps to help prevent suicide.
By increasing awareness and talking openly about mental health, Premera aims to help decrease suicide across our entire population regardless of age, gender, economic status, or lifestyle.
Dr. Mia Wise is a medical director in Healthcare Services at Premera Blue Cross. Editor's note: This post originally published on June 14, 2018.