January 5, 2012

Where Do I Start?

(from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Know that you are not alone.

If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Each year over 33,000 people in the United States die
by suicide — the devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.” In fact, research shows that during the course of our lifetime
85% of us will lose someone we care about to suicide. That means that  there are millions of survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this
heartbreaking loss.Survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions, including some or all of the following:

  • Shock is a common immediate reaction. You may feel numb or  disoriented, and may have trouble concentrating.
  • Symptoms of depression, including disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, intense sadness, and lack of energy.
  • Anger towards the deceased, another family member, a therapist, or  yourself.
  • Relief, particularly if the suicide followed a long and difficult mental illness.
  • Guilt, including thinking, “If only I had.…”

These feelings usually diminish over time, as you develop your ability to cope and begin to heal. We care and want to help.

Professional, compassionate help is available. Call us at 608-785-7000 or click here for an appointment request. 

National Violent Death Reporting System findings with respect to suicide in 2008:

 For 2008, a total of 15,755 fatal incidents involving 16,138 deaths were captured by NVDRS in the 16 states included in this report. The majority (58.7%) of deaths were suicides, followed by homicides and deaths involving legal intervention (i.e. deaths caused by police and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force, excluding legal executions) (26.4%), deaths of undetermined intent (14.5%), and unintentional firearm deaths (0.4%). Suicides occurred at higher rates among males, American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), non-Hispanic whites, and persons aged 45–54 years. Suicides occurred most often in a house or apartment (70.6%) and involved the use of firearms (51.5%). Suicides were precipitated primarily by mental health (45.4%), intimate partner (30.9%), or physical health problems (22.6%), or by a crisis during the preceding 2 weeks (27.9%).

 Suicide Patterns

Similar to the 2005–2007 NVDRS data years, the suicide rate for the 2008 data year was highest among males and American Indian/Alaskan Natives, although at least 85% of the suicide victims each year were of white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity. Also, the 2008 suicide rate was highest among those of aged 45–54 years, in general, but the highest rate remained among males of aged ?85 years. These findings have also been documented in other reports (10,11 ).

In 2008, mental health issues (i.e., having a current depressed mood and/or a current mental health condition) remained the most common health characteristic among decedents, which was also reported in previous years (79). Intimate partner and relationship problems, alcohol/substance abuse problems, serious physical health problems and crises immediately prior to death also remained common characteristics or circumstances among decedents (7,8,12–16). This report also showed that intimate partner problems were more common among male decedents and diagnosed mental health conditions were more common among female decedents. However, both male and female decedents were almost equally as likely to be noted as having a current depressed mood prior to death. This finding supports previous research that showed females are more likely than males to seek mental health care and receive a diagnosis for their mental distress (17,18). Among those who received a diagnosis, the majority of both male and female decedents were diagnosed with depression. However, this report revealed some differences in diagnoses by sex; attention deficit disorder was more commonly found among male suicide decedents and bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder were more commonly found among female decedents.

Another similarity with previous data years was that nearly 30% of suicide decedents in 2008 disclosed their intent to commit suicide to others and approximately 20% had made previous suicide attempts (79). This finding indicates that there still remains the need for proper follow-up treatment and monitoring for those who attempt suicide as well as the need for public education on how to respond and seek help when faced with someone disclosing suicidal intentions (79,19).

In contrast to previous NVDRS data years, slightly greater proportions of suicidedecedents in 2008 were identified as having job problems and having financial problems prior to death. In 2008, both proportions were estimated to be 13.4% whereas, in previous data years, the proportion of suicide decedents identified as having job problems ranged from 11.1%–11.5%, and the proportion identified as having financial problems ranged from 11.0%–11.7%. Financial hardship was not found among decedents of undetermined deaths, which further indicated this circumstance was more associated with suicide. Financial and job problems were more common among male decedents and decedents aged >50 years. Job loss can trigger a cascade of negative events, such as more financial problems and relationship problems (20), which can increase risk for suicide. These findings suggest that strategies that incorporate financial planning and social support are warranted for those who might be at risk for losing employment, particularly during difficult economic times.

 Description of System: NVDRS collects data regarding violent deaths obtained from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports. NVDRS data collection began in 2003 with seven states (Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia) participating; six states (Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) joined in 2004, four (California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Utah) in 2005, and two in 2010 (Ohio and Michigan) for a total of 19 states. This report includes data from 16 states that collected statewide data in 2008; data from California are not included in this report because NVDRS was implemented only in a limited number of California cities and counties rather than statewide. Ohio and Michigan are excluded because they did not begin data collection until 2010.

To view the entire report, visit:

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