Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day

It's National Suicide Prevention Week which corresponds with Sunday Sept 10th as World Suicide Prevention Day.

So why should you pay attention?

I just lost a friend to suicide.  He was a 24 year old Marine Sergeant who was home.  He shot himself.  Our soldiers are supposed to be out of harms way once we bring them state-side. It's heart wrenching to watch a college-aged friend have to bury her brother.   

Unfortunately, I know my experience isn't unique.  Just take a look at why are our adolescents and young adults dying.  It's accidents, homicides, and suicides.

Let me translate:  we do stupid things, we kill each other, and we kill ourselvesThat's preventable death.

Here's some statistics -- we're losing 12.7 young adults per 100,000 every year to suicide.  It's worse in the military -- active duty soldiers are committing suicide at a rate of 16.3 soldiers per 100,000 per year.  There's only old data for physicians -- but we're quoted as having a suicide rate of 28-40 doctors  per 100,000 in an AMA study.

Put another way, thats upwards of 400 physicians committing suicide a year.  Or one a day.  Or the entire medical school class from a large school (or 2 whole years at my school). ...Each year.

So take some time and consider the topic of suicide this week.  Pass this around. Discuss this with other medical students.  Check in on people who may be hurting. Let's work to reduce these numbers.  After al, these numbers aren't just numbers -- they're family and friends and co-workers.

Other sources: Pediatrics Vol. 120 No. 3 September 1, 2007 pp. 669 -676 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-1908)

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