Suicide & Self-Injury
Of all the symptoms and side effects that life's struggles can leave someone dealing with, none are more dangerous than suicide. And although suicide is an often hidden problem – a silent crisis shrouded in secrecy and seldom spoken about – suicidal ideation is also alarmingly common. In just about every survey, at least 10% of the population has seriously considered suicide at one time or another, and it's estimated that at least 5 million living Americans have survived a suicide attempt, and another 765,000 Americans join these ranks each year after making an unsuccessful attempt to take their own life.
Suicide attempts can be especially common among teens and adolescents, and suicidal thoughts among this age group are even more common still. Surveys reveal that up to 10% of middle and high school students have either thought about or attempted suicide, and rates of suicidal ideation among at-risk groups (such as bullied youth) reach as high as 50% or 60%.
Families in crisis also fall into this high-risk category. Whether the crisis is a divorce, financial struggles, domestic abuse or a dysfunctional family setting, experiencing any type of ongoing turmoil can wear a person down and cause them to lose hope in life, potentially leading to suicidal thoughts. So it's quite possible that someone you love, whether it be a child or spouse or friend or family member, is either struggling with suicidal thoughts in the present or has at some point in their life in the past. If so, this information will help you better deal with this sensitive and dangerous topic.
Notice to readers:
For those who are dealing with the aftermath of a loved one's suicide, we offer information and advice on coping with loss in our Death & Bereavement book.
Non-suicidal self-injury is also becoming more common, especially among children and youth. This can range from simple acts of frustration, such as a child banging their head against the wall repeatedly, to more complex behaviors such as cutting or scarification. We offer information that will help parents understand why kids injure themselves and offer advice to help them address these symptoms.