September 10, 2018

Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death for Americans, taking a life in every 13 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cook County Health (CCH) would like to encourage residents to know the importance in recognizing the warning signs in others.

“Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor,” said Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, Chair of Psychiatry at Cook County Health (CCH). “Many people who do not have a mental illness can still suffer profoundly after a break-up, job loss or a health scare. We should reach out to someone who might be struggling to lend a hand in support.”

Although more than 50% of those who commit suicide reportedly have not attained any psychiatric diagnosis, more than 90 percent of people who commit suicide are found to have at least one mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

There are effective treatments, like medication and therapy with a mental health professional, to address some of the underlying health issues that put people at risk for suicide.

Despite this, suicide rates continue to increase in the United States.

There were nearly 45,000 suicides in 2016. Middle-aged adults – ages 45 to 64 – had the largest rate increase, rising to 19.2 per 100,000 in 2016 from 13.2 per 100,000 in 1999, according to the CDC.

There are warning signs people should be aware of. If you see any of these signs, especially if it seems to be related to a recent loss or traumatic event, you should act immediately:

  • Talking about wanting to die or researching ways they can kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped or being a burden to others
  • Increasing drug or alcohol use
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Getting too much sleep or too little
  • Isolating themselves from activities or groups they used to be involved in

Everyone can help prevent suicide by learning the warning signs, removing firearms, medications and other potential tools for suicide among people at risk and contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a confidential, toll-free number to people considering self-harm. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In addition, CCH’ Community Triage Center (CTC) in Roseland provides evaluation, crisis stabilization and treatment for patients presenting with psychiatric and/or substance-related crises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Cook County Health, you can also call 312-864-0200.