Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on individuals, families, and communities. Over 38,000 Americans took their lives in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data, making it the 10th leading cause of death. A person dies by suicide every 14 minutes in the US. Here in Delaware, someone takes their life every three and a half days.
Uncovering the reason for an individual suicide death is complex and challenging. What we know from research is that 90% of people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of their death – a disorder that often has gone unrecognized and untreated. Other risk factors include substance abuse, stressful life events and access to lethal methods of suicide.
There are also a variety of factors that contribute to increasing resilience against suicide. These include having access to effective care for mental health and substance abuse disorders, and maintaining positive connections within one’s family, peer group and community.
The Mental Health Association along with the Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition seeks to reduce rates of suicide by reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors. Providing support through gatekeeper trainings on how to prevent suicide and social marketing to decrease the stigma around seeking help for thoughts of suicide are a few of the ways that we work to create a community that is safer from suicide.