The thought of ending one’s own life is incomprehensible to many but realistically, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and it is on the rise. Suicide is not only devastating in its loss of human life; it has tentacles and is opportunistic during times of adversity and stress. It impacts families and loved ones who are often unaware of the personal struggles of the one suffering from suicidal thoughts.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a staggering 10.7 million individuals contemplate suicide annually and 1.4 million make an attempt. This has become a public health epidemic as the numbers continue to rise annually.
Emotional wellbeing is challenged during these times and situations such as mental health stress, negative living conditions, and harmful lifestyles causing a feeling of hopelessness to magnify the desire to end the pain, so much so that it becomes a constant thought. Not knowing where to seek help becomes an added stressor and exacerbates self-imposed isolation and suicidal ideation.
Because of the lack of progress in preventing suicide in healthcare, The Joint Commission revised National Patient Safety Goal 15. In an effort to reduce the risk of suicide healthcare organizations are required to appropriately assess each patient regardless of whether they have a history of suicidal ideation or mental health diagnosis. The goal being early detection, treatment, and prevention.
We as healthcare providers are not exempt from suicidal ideation. Our role as caregivers and solution providers are magnified when situations such as COVID-19 are integrated into our daily life activities. We not only deal with the impact of our own situation, but we also seek to assess and prevent suicidal behavior in others and alleviate the negative effects of our patient’s current condition that is the impetus for suicidal ideation. As healthcare providers, we cannot be overly critical of ourselves and neglect getting the assistance we need to overcome mental health stress.
Spread awareness. Every struggle is real. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and provides free and confidential emotional support to people in crisis or emotional distress. We can all be the catalyst for suicide prevention awareness.