A startling statistic that many people may not be aware of are the rising suicide rates throughout the U.S. Studies revealed that the suicide rate between 1999 and 2016 increased by 28 percent and in 2016 alone as many as 45,000 Americans took their own lives. Unfortunately mental health issues remain a major stigma in our society and suicide is rarely discussed in spite of recent tragedies such as the passing of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.
Suicide is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. yet there has been little progress in researching suicide and suicide prevention. It is important to understand what causes suicide and yet the problem fails to receive the major research funding that other diseases and public health problems tend to get easily. The stigma behind suicide is a pervasive problem that needs to be changed in order to minimize the impact of depression and ultimately save more lives.
People tend to perceive a problem like suicide as a moral failing or a problem of character rather than part of an illness beyond a person’s control. Suicide is still thought of as a shameful or even sinful thing so it is not often discussed openly when it occurs. It is crucial for people in the U.S. to understand that suicide is a medical problem and part of a diagnosable mental illness rather than a person’s own weakness or moral failing.
Viewing suicide as a medical problem can help spread awareness about the possibility of treatment and prevention. When people have access to more treatments that are specifically designed for issues of suicide they are more likely to improve their mental health. Reducing the stigma behind suicide and providing people with the help they need can help prevent rising rates and more importantly, save lives.