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2 million adults made suicide plans, survey says

September 17, 2009 |  6:00 am

Suicide2 About 32,000 U.S. adults kill themselves each year. But millions more think about suicide or even make plans to kill themselves, according to a new national survey. The 2008 survey found that an estimated 8.3 million people ages 18 and older -- 3.7% of the adult population -- had serious thoughts of suicide in the previous year.

Of those who pondered suicide, an estimated 2.3 million -- 1% of the adult population -- made a suicide plan, and about half of those actually attempted suicide, the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

Suicidal thoughts occur most often in people ages 18 to 25, according to the study. And substance abuse disorders were associated with an increased risk to consider, plan or attempt suicide; 11% of people who had substance abuse disorders had serious thoughts of suicide, compared with 3% of those with no history of substance use disorders.

The survey was conducted of 46,190 American adults.

"This study offers a far greater understanding of just how pervasive the risk of suicide is in our nation and how many of us are potentially affected by it," Eric Broderick, the agency's acting administrator, said in a news release. "While there are places that people in crisis can turn to for help like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), the magnitude of the public health crisis revealed by this study should motivate us as a nation to do everything possible to reach out and help the millions who are at risk -- preferably well before they are in immediate danger."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline coordinates a network of 140 crisis centers around the country to provide help at any time of the day or night. The full report is available on the administration's website.

-- Shari Roan

Chart credit: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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Comments (4)

The very nature of being human, that which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is a double edged sword. It is the nature of our emotions, our psychology, to get more out of life than simply eating and procreating, to envision a future of possiblities of what might be, to feel deeply attached to the people around us, and to feel as much joy and sadness in our recollections of our experience as we do from any experience of the moment..

It can also can leave us vulnerable to severe dissappointment as our experience of the past realistically lead many to an expectation of the future just as bleak. People need others to feel happy and a history of loss of loved ones, whether it is through death, divorce, or the inevitable change in personality that comes from severe disability, can leave one certain that the future holds no more than the same.

Sociopaths don't commit suicide or even contemplate it. Individuals of deep empathy do. And the shame of it is that those most vulnerable to these deep and general feelings are the very people that the world most need.

"The thought of suicide is a powerful comfort: it helps one through many a dreadful night" - Nietzsche

That Nietszche quote used to be my motto, and it helped until I became REALLY depressed and developed chronic pain. Suicide hotline saved my least for a while. I'm about to die of a heart attack due to the upcoming cutbacks in Medicaid. My physician told me that because of the economy, those who are disabled -- and recently so - are seen as "undesirables". The next day I received a letter from Medicaid. I haven't slept since. Ironic considering that I spent over 150k in the past 12 years trying to deal with chronic pain holistically because I couldn't afford the 20% deductible from Blue Cross, nor the 680$ COBRA payments. Finally, I received REAL help -- in the form of cheap injections that take my wonderful doc a minute and are HOLISTIC, not steroid based. I hoped to retrain as an MA in English is worth nothing in this world, but I will be either in bed or doped up with medications if I lose Medicaid. I will also be homeless. (I was once homecoming queen, am a published author, and graduated 3.8 average. But I married an abusive man and in 1997 became crippled with pain so severe that I cancelled two trips to Bahamas and one to Paris, couldn't sit through a movie, etc., and was forced to stay with an evil man until he dumped me for a woman who brought in more money than I could make working at home lying in bed. I DID work, though, every day, resting in between.)
I DO NOT WANT TO DIE. But I would rather die than live on the streets in excruciating pain.

I guess my point is this article seems to blame substance abuse, which is dangerous as people tend to generalize. Many people who cannot afford health care and who have chronic pain turn to alchohol and street drugs. I have not, but I've heard it's cheaper than RX drugs.

I pray that I am released from my body often, as I do not want to commit suicide. But faced with a choice of excruciating pain and living on the streets, I'd choose suicide. Living with parents at 40 is difficult. I still have dignity, though, and refuse to trade my body for a roof, nor do I wish to beg friends for a home.

And I am certain that if I were given the opportunity to get on my feet -- by being offered affordable housing and a quick, homeopathic injection 2x a month, I could retrain, rejoin the work force, and be able to pay back the government by paying normal taxes.

If I lose Medicaid, the money that could have been used to reeducate me so I could be a functioning member of society, will most likely be used to pay for my burial costs and debts.

I am only one of many, many people. We, who suffer from chronic pain, are usually too beaten down by shame, isolation, grief, and depression, to FIGHT for our HUMAN RIGHTS!

Cats and dogs in humane shelters get better health care than humans. Sad, but true.

Illness can attack anyone. Historically, people cared for their neighbors when they were ill because prior to modern medicine, no one knew who would be next. People feared lying in their sickbeds alone and dying alone and, thus, often helped out their neighbors.

Of course, like today, those who had the most money, FLED the disease. It was always the working class that took care of one another.

Growing up in a nice middle class neighborhood, never in my worst nightmares did I imagine that I would have to choose between "living" on the streets in horrible pain or taking my own life.



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