The Allegheny County Health Department is marking World Suicide Prevention Day Saturday by reminding residents just how big of a problem suicide can be.
"Between 2005 and 2008, the Health Department's Child Death Review Team examined 19 suicides countywide involving adolescents 14 to 19 years old or about five a year," said Review Team member Jennifer Fiddner. Suicides account for about 3% of sudden deaths in that age group according to Fiddner
US Department of Health publications show nearly twice as many Americans took their own life in 2007 than were the victims of murder. Nationally, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people 15 to 24.
The Allegheny County Health Department is reminding people to watch for warning signs including previous suicide threats or attempts; depression or other mental illness; alcohol or drug abuse; family history of suicide or violence; physical illness; feeling alone; exposure to traumatic events; suicide by a close friend; and pre-occupation with acquiring or stockpiling weapons or other lethal items.
"Never leave someone alone if you think they are suicidal," said Fiddner. "Get them to see a doctor or call 911 your self."
To mark the day, the Health Department has issued to following list of warning signs to help family and friends prevent suicide:
- Talking about suicide.
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to do it.
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills or other lethal items.
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when it's out of the ordinary for the person.
- Feeling hopeless, rage, uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
- Feeling trapped – like there's no way out.
- Increasing alcohol or drug use.
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society.
- Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
- Suddenly giving away valued possessions or attempts to "put affairs in order."
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact any of the following resources for help: Resolve Crisis Network, 1-888-796-8226; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255); Suicide Prevention Resource Center, www.sprc.org; and National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml.