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Suicide – A Serious Public Health Issue Suicide – A Serious Public Health Issue
As the suicide rates continue to climb the CDC states "suicide is a serious public health problem." Suicide can have long term harmful effects... Suicide – A Serious Public Health Issue

by Kimberly Allen, RN

As the suicide rates continue to climb the CDC states “suicide is a serious public health problem.” Suicide can have long term harmful effects on not only families and individuals but communities as well.  More than 1 million people die from suicide worldwide every year including over 30,000 Americans that die every year from suicide.  In 2010 there was an average of 105 suicides per day in the US.  It is the third leading cause of death in Americans 15-24 years of age.  According to the World Health Organization suicide is the leading cause of death in teens and adults under 35 years of age world wide.  There are also more deaths from suicide than homicide.  Males are four times more likely to commit suicide than females, however, females are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.  Suicide is also expensive costing approximately $35 billion in medical expenses and lost work.
There are several different types of suicide.  Assisted suicide usually involves individuals that have a terminal illness and/or constant unbearable physical pain that enlist the help of another person to end their life because they are physically unable to perform the task even if given the means to do so.  It is a highly controversial issue with both moral and political issues.  Murder-suicide occurs when an individual kills someone else and then themselves.  There can be many reasons for murder- suicide ranging from purely criminal to passion to part of a severe depression.  Murder-suicides are more common in domestic violence situations.  Then there’s the suicide attack.  These types of attacks would be the suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots of WWII.  Mass suicides involve groups that perform suicide due to perceived social pressures.  One of the most well known mass suicides is when 918 members of the Peoples Temple committed suicide by drinking grape cool aid laced with cyanide in 1978.  Suicide pacts have become more popular especially in the teens and young adults.  Suicide pacts are when two or more people together make a plan and agree to commit suicide either together or maybe separately but timed to be together.  Unfortunately the Internet has contributed to this phenomenon.  Teens and young adults that are feeling depressed and have a computer can find web sites that will assist them.  Sometimes these pacts are made between individuals that have never met in person only online on one of the suicide web sites.  Suicide to escape is probably the most common.  People that feel that death is preferable to living life in their current circumstances.
For years there has been a long perpetuated idea that suicides occur more often during the holiday season.  It is a myth that at least half of the articles written on the subject have continued to perpetuate.  The fact is that according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics December is the month with the least amount of suicides and they fear that this misinformation could impair their efforts at prevention.  Suicides are preventable.  Do you know someone that you feel may be at risk for suicide?  There are numerous suicide “hot lines” available all over the country as well as numerous support groups and crisis centers that can assist people through difficult situations and help them to cope without committing suicide.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at