With suicide rates on the rise, what can we do to help?


The recent death of writer and food entertainer Anthony Bourdain and creative Kate Spade shed light on suicide. But while these high-profile cases have made headlines, suicide has been a major public health problem for years. In fact, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in Wisconsin and nationwide.

The suicide rate is also rising. According to a recent CDC report, there was a 25% increase in the rate of suicide deaths in the country between 1999 and 2016.

READ: CDC: US ​​suicide rates have dramatically climbed

Dr. Sara Coleman, a clinical psychologist at the Behavorial Health Division in Milwaukee County, says current statistics do not even accurately reflect the scale of the problem.

When people die by suicide, she says, it can be easy to consider them as individual cases and not to see the bigger picture, which reveals a growing public health problem. important. Coleman notes that this contributes to a mismatch between the severity of the problem and public awareness of the issue.

"I think a lot of people think that suicide is a free choice," she says. "And I really think it's a part of how people see this kind of death means to think that it's different from an illness like cancer or a car accident – whatever something you would not have chosen. "

Coleman says, have a different perspective. For people who are having difficulty, whether they are suffering from a chronic mental illness or not, suicide may seem like the only option at that time. "But if you can give them time … sometimes it's literally a few minutes later, they would not have chosen to live their lives," she says.

Although suicide deaths have increased across the country, states where gun ownership is most prevalent, such as Wisconsin, have a suicide rate approximately double the national average, explains Coleman. "If someone feels suicidal and chooses to use a gun to end his life, the lethality is much greater."

The limitation of access to firearms has been widely discussed recently, particularly in light of shootings in schools. However, considering the problem of suicide, Coleman says that it is an even more pressing concern.

From 2013 to March 2018, 41 people were killed in school shootings, Coleman said, while every year 1,000 young people aged 10 and commit suicide with a firearm. She believes that efforts to secure weapons and limit their access to people at risk of suicide are essential.

Trauma is another predictor of an increased risk of suicide. "It reduces your resilience so that when the difficult things in life happen, you do not have the same resistance to fight back," says Coleman. Often, people who experience childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, grow up without a natural support system, which can be crucial in preventing suicide.

There are usually warning signs of suicide. This list may include things like mental illness, substance problems, history of suicide attempts and traumatic events such as violence, divorce or natural disasters. According to her, it is important, especially as a result of celebrity suicides, to check with people.

If you believe that someone is suicidal, "the most important thing is to take them seriously and listen to them. Do not be afraid to ask clear and precise questions. "

Coleman believes that one thing that will help decrease the number of people who die by suicide is to" work on people who believe that suicide is avoidable … Let people know that it is there is still hope. "


  • If you believe that there is imminent danger, call 911 .
  • 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text HOME at 741-741
  • Milwaukee Behavioral Health Crisis Line Division 24/7: (414) 257-7222
  • Psychiatric Emergencies: ] 9499 Watertown Street Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI (414) 257-7260
  • Crisis Resource Centers: 5409 West Villard Avenue, Milwaukee, WI (414) 539-4024 AND 2057 South 14th Street, Milwaukee, WI ( 414) 643-8778


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