Suicide is ranked 10th among leading causes of death in the United States. The acronym STRIVE describes the many risk factors associated with suicide. These risk factors are:
- Substance abuse
- Recovering hospitalization
- Initial history of depression
- Violence, and
- Evidence of mental illness.
Social support systems, emergency department visits and hospitalization can all lend a hand in helping to prevent or reduce the impact of these risk factors.
While someone may be considering suicide, most people don’t speak up and say the words. We need to listen to our loved ones’ actions and pick up on these warning sign behaviors, these unspoken voices.
For example, when a patient comes to the FMH Emergency Department he or she is evaluated by a triage nurse and an emergency department physician. If the emergency physician makes a diagnosis that includes suicidal thoughts, Crisis Management Services is called in to see the patient.
If necessary, the patient may be admitted to our Behavioral Health Unit – an inpatient psychiatric program for adults with a range of psychological and substance abuse challenges. Here, a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, social workers, case managers and psychiatric nurses work with each patient and his or her family to create a treatment plan that emphasizes recovery, wellness and social support.
Social support is the key to unraveling and changing the unspoken voices of the many adults and children plagued with suicidal thoughts. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows us how basic human needs influence our behavior:
Maslow’s theory suggests that once our physiological needs are met, we move on to focus on our safety. When we feel safe, we can search for love and belonging, then esteem and then self-actualization. All of these needs are best met through a comprehensive support system.
Ultimately, reducing the number of suicides requires the engagement and commitment of people in many sectors in and outside of government, including public health and mental health facilities.
If you or someone you care about are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please pick up the phone and call for help. Here in Frederick County you can simply dial 211 to reach the Mental Health Association. Their hotline is staffed 24/7 and help is available in more than 150 languages.
No matter what you’re feeling, hurting yourself is not the answer. Please reach out for help.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WISQARS™—Your source for U.S. injury statistics. Available at www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/facts.html. Accessed December 19, 2013 2012.
Kenrick, D. (2010, May 19). Rebuilding Maslow’s pyramid on an evolutionary foundation. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201005/rebuilding-maslow-s-pyramid-evolutionary-foundation
Sisask M, Varnik A. Media roles in suicide prevention: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012;9(1):123-138.
SuicidePreventionResourceCenter (SPRC) and Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA). Charting the future of suicide prevention: a 2010 progress review of the National Strategy and recommendations for the decade ahead. David Litts, ed., Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.; 2010.