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Suicide The Facts and Myths


Title: Toward A Better Understanding Of Suicide: The Facts, The Myths, The In-Betweens Author: counseling Last modified by: Michael Jungbluth Created Date – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Suicide The Facts and Myths

SuicideThe Facts and Myths
  • Deputy Chief Michael Jungbluth
  • MATC Recruit Academy

  • The act or instance of intentionally killing
  • An individuals most sincere form of
    self-analysis and critique.

Suicide Has a Long History
  • Biblical Suicides
  • Abimelech (Judges 950 57)
  • Samson (Judges 1628 - 31)
  • Sauls armor-bearer (1 Samuel 315)
  • Ahithopel (2 Samuel 1723)
  • Zimri (I Kings 1617 19)
  • Judas Iscariot (Matthew 273 5)

  • The Medieval Period
  • Suicide became extremely uncommon.
  • Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) stated
  • 1.) Suicide is a violation of natural law.
  • 2.) Suicide is a violation of moral law.
  • 3.) Suicide is a violation of divine law.
  • Suicide was considered to be worse than murder
    for in killing ones fellow man, one is only
    killing the body, whereas in suicide, one is
    killing the body and soul.

  • The Seventeenth Century Onwards
  • Walter Charlton coined the term suicide in
  • During this time, attempting suicide became an
    indictable offense in many places. From 1844 to
    1855 13 of the 40,000 who attempted suicide were
    prosecuted 308 of these were sent to jail, and
    in 1855, a man received a two year jail sentence
    for trying to commit suicide, although this was
    subsequently reduced to a month.

  • Emile Durkheim (1897 1951), a French
    Sociologist published his exhaustive survey
    entitled Le Suicide. He stated that where social
    solidarity is strong against suicide, occurrence
    is low. He also broke suicide down into three
    catgories Egoistic- a failure to integrate
    onself with society, Altruistic- motivated by the
    persons desire to further group goals, Anomic
    suicide- A persons relationship to society is
    unbalanced... a dramatic shift in society. This
    study later led to the development of both
    intrapsychic and biochemical explanations.

Suicide Statistics
  • There were 30,810 suicide deaths in the United
    States in 1997, representing 1.4 of the total
  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the
    United States. Homicide ranks 14th.
  • Ranks 3rd for the young (15-24 years)
  • Every year, there are more suicide deaths in the
    United States than homicides.

  • The state with the highest suicide rate was
    Nevada at 24.8 per 100,000 population. The lowest
    was the District of Columbia at 6.6 per 100,000.
  • Suicide rates for the U.S. are average among
    industrialized nations and generally higher than
    developing countries.
  • Generally, the suicide rate in the United States
    has been level over the past 90 years, peaking at
    a rate of 17.4 per 100,000 population in 1932 and
    ranging from 12.0 to 14.0 per 100,000 over the
    past ten years.

  • Men account for 80 of all suicides in the United
  • Generally, women are more likely than men to make
    suicide attempts, as over 50 of suicide attempts
    are made by women. However, men are much more
    likely to be successful at killing themselves as
    they choose more lethal methods of suicide.

  • AGE
  • People 75-84 years of age have the highest
    suicide rate of any group at 23.5 per 100,000.
  • Elderly, white men over the age of 65 have a
    higher risk of suicide with a rate of 42.7 per
    100,000 population. Non-white elderly men have a
    suicide rate of 16.7 per 100,000.
  • In comparison, women over the age of 65 have a
    suicide rate of 6.0 per 100,000 population.

  • Generally, communities of color have lower rates
    of suicide than whites. However, these
    differences in suicide rates are much more
    dramatic in older adults.
  • Adolescents and younger adults, representing
    communities of color, have lower suicide risks
    than whites, usually 30 to 40 lower.
  • Some Native Americans in certain tribes have
    dramatically high suicide rates, particularly
    among male adolescents, reaching rates of 44.0
    per 100,000 population.
  • White males account for 70 of all suicides.

  • Mental and addictive disorders are central risk
    factors for suicide. More than 90 of completed
    suicides are associated with these disorders.
  • 20 of men and women with unipolar depression or
    bipolar disorder commit suicide, 13 of
    schizophrenic patients commit suicide, and 10 of
    patients with a personality disorder commit
    suicide. This is 10 to 15 times the rate of the
    general population.
  • Only 3 of alcoholics commit suicide, but since
    alcoholism is so prevalent in society, 33 of all
    suicides involve alcoholism. Most alcoholics who
    commit suicide have over 20 years of alcohol
    abuse before dying. Few suicides are reported in
    alcoholics under age 40.

  • Generally, suicide rates decrease with age in
    this group. However, since fewer young people die
    of health related causes, suicide is a leading
    cause of death among adolescents.
  • Suicide rates among adolescents have
    significantly increased over the past forty
    years. In 1950, the rate for people ages 15-24
    was 4.5 per 100,000 population. In 1990, the rate
    tripled to 13.2 per 100,000.

  • As with adults, the majority of adolescent
    suicides are committed by males. Among 15-24 year
    olds, 73 of suicides are committed by males. As
    with adults, female adolescents are far more
    likely to attempt suicide. For youth
    hospitalization after a suicide attempt 1 out of
    12 males succeed in committing suicide while only
    1 in 300 females are successful in committing
  • Among 15-24 year olds, suicide is the third
    leading cause of death with a suicide rate of
    13.1 per 100,000 population.

  • Over 60 of all suicides are committed by
    firearms, and 80 of all firearm suicides are
    committed by white men. Hanging is the second
    most common method of suicide.
  • Drug overdose accounts for 70 of suicide
    attempts, although the vast majority of overdose
    attempts are unsuccessful.

Warning Signs of Suicide
  • Conditions associated with increased risk of
  • Death or terminal illness of relative or friend.
  • Divorce, separation, broken relationship, stress
    on family.
  • Loss of health (real or imaginary).
  • Loss of job, home, money, status, self-esteem,
    personal security.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.

  • Depression. In the young, depression may be
    masked by hyperactivity or acting out behavior.
    In the elderly, it may be incorrectly attributed
    to the natural effects of aging. Depression that
    seems to quickly disappear for no apparent reason
    is cause for concern. The early stages of
    recovery from depression can be a high risk
    period. Recent studies have associated anxiety
    disorders with increased risk for attempted

  • Emotional and behavioral changes associated with
    suicidal people
  • Overwhelming Pain pain that threatens to exceed
    the persons pain coping capacities. Suicidal
    feelings are often the result of long-standing
    problems that have been exacerbated by recent
    precipitating events. The precipitating factors
    may be new pain or the loss of pain coping
  • Hopelessness the feeling that the pain will
    continue to get worse things will never get
  • Powerlessness the feeling that ones resources
    for reducing pain are exhausted.

  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt,
    self-hatred, no one cares. Fears of losing
    control, harming self or others.
  • Personality becomes sad, withdrawn, tired,
    apathetic, anxious, irritable, or prone to angry
  • Declining performance in school, work, or other
    activities. (Occasionally the reverse someone
    who volunteers for extra duties because they need
    to fill up their time).
  • Social isolation or association with a group
    that has different moral standards than those of
    the family.

  • Declining interest in sex, friends, or activities
    previously enjoyed.
  • Neglect of personal welfare, deteriorating
    physical appearance.
  • Alteration in either direction of sleeping or
    eating habits.
  • (Particularly in the elderly) Self-starvation,
    dietary mismanagement, disobeying medical
  • Difficult times holidays, anniversaries, and the
    first week after discharge from a hospital just
    before and after diagnosis of a major illness
    just before and during disciplinary proceedings.
    Undocumented status adds to the stress of a

  • History of mental disorders, particularly
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma
    attached to mental health and substance abuse
    disorders or suicidal thoughts
  • Cultural and religious beliefsfor instance, the
    belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a
    personal dilemma
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other

  • Previous suicide attempts, mini-attempts
  • Explicit statements of suicidal ideation or
  • Development of suicidal plan, acquiring means,
    rehearsal behavior, setting a time for the
  • Self-inflicted injuries, such as cuts, burns, or
    head banging.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Making out a will or giving away favorite
  • Inappropriately saying good-bye.
  • Verbal behavior that is ambiguous or indirect
    You wont have to worry about me anymore.
    Requests for euthanasia information,
    inappropriate joking, stories or essays on morbid

What Can I Do to Help Someone Who May be Suicidal?
  1. Realize that someone may be SUICIDAL.
  2. Take it seriously.
  3. Remember suicidal behavior is a cry for help.
  4. Be willing to give and get help sooner rather
    than later.
  5. Listen. Talking things out can save a life.
  6. ASK Are you having thoughts of suicide?
  7. If the person is suicidal, do not leave him
  8. No Harm Contract.
  9. Urge professional help.
  10. No secrets.
  11. Referral to MH Facility / Emergency Detention