In 2013, four hundred and thirteen suicides were reported in San Diego County, making it a record year in the region. Of these, seventy five percent were male, and twenty five percent were female. Given these statistics, County officials joined mental health providers and local higher education officials on Friday to remind the public that knowing the warning signs of suicide can help save someone’s life.
In 2010, the county launched the It’s Up To Us campaign to prevent suicide by raising awareness about the warning signs. The county is also supporting the Not On My Watch campaign aimed toward raising awareness concerning suicide prevention across college campuses in San Diego.
One of the central themes of the campaign is recognition- knowing how to identify signals and where to find help can make the difference between life and death. Most people who attempt or die by suicide show one or more indications prior to the attempt. People tend to think of suicide in association with feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness. These individuals may have recently experienced the loss of a job or loved one, ended a relationship, or lost their home. “Recognizing the warning signs is key to preventing someone from ending their life,” said Nick Macchione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency. “Suicide can be prevented. It’s important to know how to assist a suicidal person.”
Some warning signs of suicide include:
- History of mental illness, such as major depression, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Expressing a desire to hurt oneself or end one’s life
- Divorce, separation, stress on family
- Loss of health
- Loss of home, job, or personal security
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Isolation from family or friends
- Potentially reckless behavior, such as excessive spending or engaging in unsafe sex
- Sudden calmness after a period of depression or moodiness
- Undergoing a recent trauma or life crisis
“Suicide is doubly tragic because of the lives lost and the emotional heartbreak to family members and other loved ones,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “To some, suicide may seem like the only solution to their problems. It is not. Help is available for anyone considering ending their lives.”
Regarding the lack of suicide awareness across the state, Roberts believes it us up to us to educate each other, spread the word, and combat the stigma of what is too oft treated as taboo.
“First of all, there is the issue of mental illness and the stigma-we accept going to a doctor to get better if you’re suffering from some type of physical illness. We don’t say that that person is chronically ill, so we need to do the same thing with mental health. The really important part of this is that we recognize those symptoms where friends can step in with a little help, and maybe make a connection. We have the services available. It’s a willingness to talk about it…There is hope, there is somewhere to turn.”