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Suicide occurs for many reasons and is often related to depression, emotional or physical pain, financial difficulties, shame or other undesirable situations. Medically assisted suicide (euthanasia, or the “right to die,”) is a controversial and ethical issue involving people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain and/or have a minimal quality of life through injury or illness. Suicide is a mental health concern and is most often associated with factors such as difficulty coping with depression or a feeling of inescapable suffering due to other mental disorders or life pressures. A person may feel overwhelmed by the death of a loved one or other emotional trauma, physical injury, aging, unemployment, guilty feelings or dependence on alcohol or drugs. Nearly half of all suicides are preceded by an attempt that does not end in death and is often interpreted as a “cry for help” or a wish to escape - rather than a genuine intent to die. Those with a history of suicide attempts are 23 more times likely to eventually end their own lives than those without any attempts. Women attempt suicide more frequently than men, although men are four times more likely to die from their first attempt. The elderly have the highest rate of suicide, but there has been a steady increase among adolescents. Relatives of people who attempt or complete suicide often blame themselves or become extremely angry because they see the act as selfish. However, when people are suicidal, they often mistakenly believe that they are doing their friends and relatives a favor by removing themselves from the world.

Any suicide attempt is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms or signs may include:

Expressions of guilt feelings
Extreme tension or anxiety
Sudden change in behavior, especially calmness after a period of anxiety
Giving away belongings, attempts to "get one's affairs in order"
Direct or indirect threats to commit suicide
Direct attempts to commit suicide

Help is available. Sometimes, simply talking to a sympathetic, nonjudgmental listener is enough to prevent the person from attempting suicide. For this reason suicide prevention centers have telephone "hotline" services. DO not ignore any suicide threat or attempted suicide. As with any other type of emergency, it is best to immediately call the local emergency number (such as 911). Do not leave the person alone even after phone contact with an appropriate professional has been made.

You can also call the USA National Suicide Hotline, which is available toll-free, 7 days a week, 24 hours per day.

USA National Suicide Hotline
1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433




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