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Suicide in adults on the rise in the United States

Posted: 11:20 PM, Sep 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-27 12:56:06Z

As a clinical psychologist and now special advisor to the President of Bayview, Dr. Dan Hale knows all too well, depression does not discriminate.

His daughter Libby had gone through treatment before, but he says the depression always seemed to be lurking in the background.

"I don't think that's a widely held notion that it is a medical problem it shouldn't be viewed as a personal failure or weakness so I think often with her new friends/acquaintances she would try to get by without treatment," said Hale.

At the age of 36, Libby took her own life.

"In the fall of 2012, she took some very powerful poison which seriously damaged her lungs but did not kill her immediately. So she was actually on a ventilator in an ICU for four months. 

She later died in January of 2013.

Dr. Paul Nestadt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins says suicide has now jumped to the second leading cause of death among any American between the ages of 10 and 35 years old.

"In general around age 50 is the peak risk time and then again after age 80 especially in white men. Interestingly in African American, the high-risk age period is around age 20. But suicide is much more common in whites and in men," said Dr. Nestadt.

ABC Network is taking the topic to the small screen when the season premiere of 'A Million Little Things' airs.

The show is about a group of friends motivated to live fuller lives after a friend unexpectedly takes his own life.

Dr. Nestadt says 85% of suicide cases are due to a major depressive disorder, which can often come with red flags.

"So that's things like increased isolation in someone that you care about, more hopelessness or if you're looking at yourself, feelings of sadness that last more than a few weeks."

He says it's all about treating the root to the problem, whether it's depression or substance abuse. And Dr. Nestadt stressed that treatment has been proven to work.

"Depression is an illness we are really good at treating with medications, with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy," said Dr. Nestadt. "People that have attempted suicide that don't die or that have suicidal attempts rarely go onto to die by suicide, so if you can not die if you can get help, your chances of surviving are excellent."

As for Dr. Hale, he hopes sharing his story will help others going through a similar situation. But as for the pain, a father feels losing a child, that pain will never go away.

"You never lose it but move from grief toward gratitude and realize at least I had her for 36 years, she was a wonderful daughter," said Hale.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or 8255.