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Paramedic’s Corner: Suicidal behavior and temptations leading toward death
Paramedic’s Corner: Suicidal behavior and temptations leading toward death

Ambulance Director Gary Carmack
Suicide is ranked number 11 among leading causes of death in our country. Here are some facts:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people from the ages of 15 to 24. A high percentage of university student deaths are suicides. The rate of suicide attempts is disproportionately high among adolescent girls.

Why is it that so many of America’s youth become tempted by death?

More men than women die by suicide, but women attempt suicide three times more often than men. People in a secure relationship have a significantly lower suicide rate than single people. Suicide is less frequent among practicing members of most religious groups, especially Roman Catholics. Suicide runs in families.

Suicide is very complex, perplexing, and devastating. It is complex because there are no single-risk factors, instead, a combination of factors lead to suicide. It is perplexing because most people are confused about these acts and do not understand why they happen. It is also devastating because of the death and the emotional scars left behind on the living.

Suicide is really not about death. People do not want to die: they want an end to the incredible emotional pain and misery they feel. I believe this is the most important part of this article: helping people realize that others do not “really” want to die. They want relief, help, and happiness. However, the person sometimes believes there is no way to escape the misery and darkness they feel. If someone can spend time with the person — not handling matters with a judging or condescending nature, but really listening and helping these people by supporting and obtaining good professional assistance — I believe the suicide rate can change in this country.

Often the individual will attempt suicide or exhibit behavior called “suicide gestures.” Suicide gestures are often attempts to be communicative. Gestures must never be dismissed lightly; they are very strong pleas for help and the person is very miserable and serious.

The person may be really ambivalent about wanting to die, and may attempt to commit suicide, but the attempt may be a plea for help that failed because the person had a strong desire to live. This person must receive help from mental health care professionals because the next attempt might be successful. About 20 to 30 percent of people who attempt suicide will try again within one year. Sadly, 10 percent of people who make an attempt will eventually die by suicide.

A word of caution regarding suicide notes: only one in six people leave notes. Therefore, lack of a note does not mean suicide did not occur.

The primary remediable factor in suicide is depression. Alcohol can be an encouragement to suicide. Thirty percent of people who attempt suicide have consumed alcohol before the attempt and half are intoxicated at the time.

Any suicidal act or threat should be taken seriously. Clear warnings are given in many cases, but not always. The main thing is to let people know there is always hope, get good professional help, and be a good listener and never never be judgmental. The depressed person can sense that very quickly.

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