The growing problem of suicide
The CDC just released a disturbing study: From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among middle-aged adults in the United
States increased 28.4%. Suicide deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes in recent years in the United States.
Most disturbing, that spike among the middle-aged, a 28 percent rise overall, a 40 percent jump among white Americans, and among men in their 50s, suicides increased by more than 48 percent. Guns remained the leading method used in all suicides, followed by poisoning, overdoses and suffocation.
In Oregon, the suicide rate has increased a whopping 49.3 in this same time period!
While these results don’t give causes for this increase, it is correlated with increased financial stress associated with the Great Recession. Also, alcohol abuse, street drug abuse, and overuse or abuse of prescription opiates is also seen as a factor in increasing suicide rates.
We are the solution
Yet, we are not powerless to this epidemic:
Contrary to popular opinion, asking someone if they are thinking of harming themselves does not increase the risk, but actually decreases the risk that they will harm themselves.
Just asking can make a huge difference.
, the director of the CDC, there are two key things individuals can do to improve their resiliency:
- Social connectedness: staying connected, joining groups, not isolating yourself.
- Caring for your mental health (treatment, physical activity, avoiding excessive alcohol/drugs).
The CDC report also identifies key components of suicide prevention:
“Suicide prevention strategies involve enhancing social support and community connectedness, improving access to mental health and preventive services, and reducing the stigma and barriers associated with seeking help. Other prevention strategies include programs to help those at increased risk of suicide, such as those struggling with financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, stress of caregiving for children and aging parents, substance abuse, and serious or chronic health problems.”
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer -- three simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying "Yes" to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor.
Resources and Links
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and visit online at
Ryan Scott, PhD is the Director of Vista Counseling and ADHD Clinic, a group practice of skilled therapists in Eugene, OR.
This practice focuses on individual, couples, and family counseling for depression, anxiety, ADHD, parenting, and psychological evaluations.
People interested in improving their lives and their relationships can schedule a free 15 minute phone consult at our website.