As the 11th-leading cause of death among all Americans and the third-leading cause of death among those 15-24 years of age, suicide is a serious public health problem. Depression affects nearly ten percent of the population. In 1999, one-fifth of all high school students reported having seriously considered or attempted suicide during the previous 12 months. In 2000, a survey by the American College Health Association, found that 9.5% of college students considered suicide. Suicide rates rise with age. People over the age of 75 have the nation's highest suicide rate.

In addition to the tragic loss of a life, suicide results in a damaging aftershock for family and friends of the victim. Moreover, there is often a loss of income for the family and a loss to society. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 – 44. A study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and Harvard University measured years of healthy life lost due to premature death or disability. It found that disability caused by major depression was equal to the amount of disability caused by blindness or paralysis.

Learning about suicide and depression can help you see when you or someone else needs help and how to get that help.

What to do if you are feeling suicidal:

  • Call 9-1-1 and report you are in suicidal danger.
  • Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) – National Hope Line Network. (Available 24 hours/7 days)
  • Call 1-800-922-2283 – South Carolina Crisis Hotline.

What to do if someone you know is suicidal:

  • Do not leave a suicidal person alone.
  • Stay calm.
  • Get help immediately – call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Remove items (guns, pills, etc.) that a person might use for suicide.

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Written by: Janice C. May, M.P.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Wednesday March 11, 2015 2:42 PM