Stop Suicide's Underlying Conditions - Guest Blog

Suicide is a serious health problem in the United States today. So much so, that is has become yet another epidemic our country is facing along with drugs and alcohol addiction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10-34 years old.  And just as startling, recent findings released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that 20 Veterans die by suicide each day.

It’s time we begin to address this epidemic.

Today, we share a post from guest blogger, Melissa Howard, from Colorado Springs, CO who runs a website called  After the loss of her younger brother to suicide, Melissa felt the need to create her website to spread awareness on this topic.  By providing helpful resources and articles, she hopes to build a lifeline of information for individuals and families struggling with suicide.

Stop Suicide's Underlying Conditions

Guest Blog: By Melissa Howard

In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide, making it the 10th-leading cause of death in the country. And that staggering toll could be much higher considering an estimated 25 people attempt suicide for every fatality.

Risks and Warnings

So suicide is a widespread health concern that can impact Americans from all walks of life. In fact, there’s no single predictor that a person will attempt or commit suicide. But there are some characteristics and conditions that can increase the odds someone will try to harm themselves. Common risk factors include depression, bipolar disorder, substance use issues, dealing with chronic pain or other serious health conditions, experiencing stressful life events such as death or divorce, and previous suicide attempts, among others.

The warning signs can vary depending on the individual, but someone considering suicide could talk openly about killing themselves, verbally express feelings of hopelessness, and discuss being a burden to others. They may also boost their drug or alcohol consumption, start giving away prized possessions, or cut themselves off from family and friends, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know seems in imminent danger of self-harm, you should call 911 or another entity that can connect you with immediate emergency support. In other cases, mental health organizations, suicide prevention groups, or your primary care provider are good places to seek suggestions on where to get help.

Underlying Conditions

Although there is a strong stigma associated with suicide, the fact is most who die by suicide suffer from a mental disorder. For instance, 30 to 70 percent of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, according to statistics cited by Mental Health America.  Alcohol and drug abuse are the second-leading risk factor for suicide. People struggling with substance abuse disorder are about six times more likely than the general population to commit suicide, according to data cited by Psychology Today.

Treatment and Self-Help

But these conditions are treatable once you face the signs you or a loved one should seek support. Dealing with the underlying causes that drive people to self-harm is essential to prevent future attempts.

For example, if you are diagnosed with depression, treatment could include psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy to help you replace negative thought patterns and encourage specific steps to help you deal with depression.

Many health insurance companies cover mental health treatment, and if you’re a senior, Medicare Part B covers many different types of counseling services. Your treatment plan may also include prescription medication to help manage your mood. If you grapple with chronic pain, there are many interventions that can reduce it or help you manage it more effectively, including some non-invasive treatments that don’t involve medications. And if substance abuse is an issue, your health care team may recommend you check in at an inpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility, before setting up ongoing support, to help you stay substance-free.

There are also steps you can take to deal with depression, chronic pain management, and staying sober. For instance, a support group can provide a nurturing network of people who’ve faced some of the same challenges you have. Similarly, being open and honest with trusted family and friends will better enable them to provide support in a variety of ways. Finally, regular physical activity and mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga have been shown to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, aid people in addiction recovery, and help people manage pain.

So, if you are having suicidal thoughts , there is hope -- and help. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts. Instead, seek support to address the underlying conditions that are driving those thoughts so you can move on to live the happy, healthy life you deserve.

Thank you to Melissa for being a guest blogger for Hope United.  We appreciate your passion for bringing awareness to the topic of suicide and sharing that there is HOPE for those who are struggling. To see more articles on the topic of suicide, visit her website.


And please remember, if you are in a mental health crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Hope United’s organizational mission is to bring Hope to those affected by the drug, alcohol and suicide epidemics. It is based on three pillars of proven success that facilitate holistic growth and healing: 1) increasing education and awareness, 2) providing peer support to families, and 3) helping foster a healthy recovery community. To fulfill this mission, Hope United is committed to providing Northeast Ohio with the first-ever Relapse Prevention Wellness Center in a campus setting: Tyler’s Redemption Place. The approach will be to encompass an individual’s whole life: including Mind, Body, Spirit and Community.