Suicide rates have seen a worrisome uptick in recent years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide claims the lives of around 800,000 people each year, and is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-29. In the United States, suicide rates have increased by 33% between 1999 and 2019.
This alarming trend can’t be attributed to just one factor. Rather, it’s a complex issue that stems from a combination of social, economic, psychological, and cultural factors. Below are just some of the factors that may contribute to the rise in suicide rates, in our humble opinion:
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are common risk factors for suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reports that 90% of individuals who die by suicide have a mental health disorder.
Access to mental healthcare remains a barrier for many people. People with low socioeconomic status or who lack insurance may have fewer options to obtain mental healthcare.
Life Changes and Traumatic Events
Life changes and traumatic events, including the loss of a loved one, divorce, and job loss, can trigger depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders associated with suicide.
Recent studies have also identified that isolation caused by social media use, the decline of community and lack of social cohesion, and increased financial stress are contributing factors.
Using alcohol or illegal drugs increases the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Substance abuse can also worsen the underlying mental health condition that triggers suicidal behavior.
What Can Be Done to Address The Problem?
The rise of suicide rates underscores the importance of increased awareness, prevention, and access to treatment. There are several approaches to addressing the problem:
Increasing Mental Health Awareness
Stigma around mental illness is pervasive and often prevents people from seeking help. Promoting mental health awareness, offering education, and normalizing the conversation around mental health can reduce stigma and increase help-seeking behavior.
Providing Access to Treatment
Access to treatment is crucial for preventing suicide. Insurance coverage and improving access to mental healthcare services can ensure that people receive the treatment and resources they need.
Building Stronger Communities
Support groups and social connections can help mitigate the risk of suicidal behavior. Efforts to build stronger communities through social programs can reduce isolation and build a sense of connection and belonging.
The rise of suicide rates is a multi-faceted problem. There is no one solution that will fix everything, which is why promoting mental health awareness, providing access to treatment, and building stronger, connected communities is essential.
Widespread change is needed across multiple sectors, including healthcare, education, and policy to help prevent suicide and support individuals at risk. Together, we can make progress towards reducing the number of lives lost to suicide each year.