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Suicide
Suicide is a complex human behavior, with no single cause. Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers, and communities. Suicide is also preventable. 
WARNING
SIGNS
POPULATIONS AT
HIGHER RISK
SUICIDE IN
THE U.S.
SUICIDE
MYTH/FACTS

Students, faculty or staff should contact a mental health professional and OU police when you hear or see any of these behaviors:
  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible.
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
Academic
  • Excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work.
  • Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
  • Dependency and/or repeated requests for special consideration (e.g., the student who hangs around or makes excessive appointments during office hours, frequent deadline extensions).
  • Inability to make decisions despite your repeated efforts to clarify or encourage.
  • Impaired speech and disjointed thoughts.
Behavioral
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequently falling asleep in class OR
  • Behavior that regularly interferes with effective class management.
  • Frequent or high levels of irritable, unruly, abrasive, or aggressive or threatening behavior.
  • Expressions of suicidal thoughts (e.g., referring to suicide as a current option).
Appearance
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene.
  • Excessive weight gain or loss.
  • Overly nervous, tense or tearful.


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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Asexual (LGBTIQA)

Studies have shown that LGBT persons may be at a higher risk for suicide and suicide ideation (thinking about suicide). Unfortunately, death certificates do not list a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, it is difficult to find out the real number of LBGT persons that have died by suicide.

According to a 2012 report by the US Surgeon General, gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals are much more likely to attempt a suicide than are heterosexual, or “straight,” individuals.

Few studies exist on transgender individuals, but statistics show that transgender persons are much more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual persons are.

LGB youth are much more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.

High numbers of suicide attempts have been found in African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American LGB populations.

LGBT suicides seem to be related to “minority stress,” which comes from the cultural and social prejudice against LGBT persons, a minority sexual orientation and gender identity. This stress can be caused by 
  • Individual experiences with LGBT prejudice or discrimination, such as:
    • Family rejection
    • Harassment
    • Bullying
    • Violence
    • Victimization
  • Institutional discrimination
  • Laws and policies that do not allow LGBT the same rights and protections
  • Individual and institutional discrimination have been linked with
  • Social isolation (feeling alone or not having friends)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative sexual or gender identity
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
Another risk factor is people seeing LGBT suicide deaths shown by the media as a normal response to anti-LGBT bullying or other discrimination.

More research is needed to find out how much prejudice and discrimination affect transgender individuals.

Factors that can reduce minority stress and suicide risk in LGBT persons include:
  • Family acceptance
  • Connection to caring others and a sense of safety
  • Positive sexual or gender identity
  • Availability of quality mental health treatment
The Gender & Sexuality Center at OU has a list of resources for the LGBTIQA community. Resources are also available on this site under Get Help.



Veterans

People go through emotional and mental health issues because of many different situations. These can range from relationship problems to the loss of a job. For veterans, these issues can be made worse by experiences during military service.
The Veterans Crisis Line can provide more information on specific signs of mental health issues and resources.

OU Counseling Center offers services for student veterans. Information is also available for veterans settling back into civilian life.

Veterans and their loved ones can get confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by:
  • Calling 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
  • Chatting online
  • Sending a text message to 838255
The Veterans Crisis Line offers a private, self-check quiz that can help you find out if stress or depression might be affecting you.

Veterans can share experiences and get support from other veterans through Make the Connection.


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There are far more suicides each year than homicides. In fact, from 2008-2010, the number of suicides has been more than twice that of homicides. In 2010, more than 38,000 people died by suicide.

Suicide Attempts in the United States
  • There are an estimated 12 attempted suicides for every one suicide death. 
  • In 2009, there were an estimated 374,486 people with self-inflicted injuries are treated in emergency departments. The number increased to 464,995 in 2010 and 487,770 in 2011.
  • The estimated number of people hospitalized for self-inflicted injuries increased from 155,000 in 2009 to 224,000 in 2011.
Age Group Differences
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 25- to 34-year olds and the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year olds.
  • Suicide among 45- to 54-year-olds is a growing problem; the rate of suicide is higher in this age group than in any other.
  • Although older adults engage in suicide attempts less than those in other age groups, they have a higher rate of death by suicide. Over the age of 65, there is one estimated suicide for every 4 attempted suicides compared to 1 suicide for every 100-200 attempts among youth and young adults ages 15-24.
Gender Disparities
  • Men die by suicide four times as often as women and represent 78.8% of all U.S. suicides.
  • Women attempt suicide two to three times as often as men.
  • Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75 and older.
  • Suicide rates for females are highest among those aged 45-54.
  • Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide among males.
  • Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females.
Racial and Ethnic Disparities
  • The highest suicide rates are among American Indian/Alaskan Natives and Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest suicide rates among males while Non-Hispanic Blacks have the lowest suicide rate among females.
Information provided by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.


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Myth: Asking someone if they are suicidal will give them the idea.
Fact: If they are suicidal they've already been thinking of it. If they haven't, you're not going to give them the idea. It can let them know that it is OK to talk to you about their thoughts regarding suicide because you were comfortable enough to ask them about it.

Myth:
Only crazy people think about suicide.
Fact: Most people have thought of suicide sometime in their lives. Most people who do attempt suicide or complete a suicide do not suffer from severe chronic mental illness. They are often confused and feel helpless about a situation.

Myth:
If a person is considering suicide, they are beyond help and nothing can be done.
Fact: Most suicidal situations are time-limited crises and are based on unclear thinking. Finding support and solutions to help them through this crisis until they can think clearly again is important.

Myth:
People who make unsuccessful suicide attempts just want attention.
Fact: Sometimes suicide is a way to get attention in order to get help. Just dismissing it may make things worse. Without proper help, they may make a more serious suicide attempt next time.

Myth:
Suicidal people are fully intent on dying and have a right to die.
Fact: Many suicidal people want to live better, even while they are stating that they want to die. Most often their suicidal communication indicates a need for relief from the intense emotional pain.

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Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. 

Suicide and thoughts of suicide can be caused by a combination of factors, including:
  • mental illness
  • substance abuse, or
  • feelings of hopelessness due to outside factors.
Suicide risk can be reduced for individuals who:
  • receive effective mental healthcare
  • feel connected to others, and
  • who have problem-solving skills,
Suicide IS preventable. 

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