Mention celebrity suicides and you immediately think of Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, and Kate Spade. Talk about teen suicides and you think of the lost potential of young people. After all, it is the third leading cause of death among 10-24-year-olds.
Every day at least 123 Americans die of suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Depression is one reason, a psychological disorder that affects nearly a fourth of American adults in a given year. And only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.
It is also true that more than half of those who do commit suicide had no history of “mental health” problems. Troubled relationships, substance abuse, health issues, and financial woes are some of the other challenges that contribute to suicide.
Sociologists document that people are more isolated than ever before. On the other hand, we may be more connected virtually through social media, but that is not the same as face-to-face interaction and friendships. Families, churches, and social groups can provide an answer to the suicide epidemic.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We should take comfort in that verse, but also be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out to those who are crushed and broken-hearted.
Parents also have an important role to play. Asking your child about suicide does not cause suicidal behavior, but can provide a caring and empathetic conversation that might save his or her life. They should look for warning signs. One study found that four out of five teen suicide attempts were preceded by clear warning signs.
We are living in the midst of a suicide epidemic. That is why each of us should be watching for any cry for help and attention.