The Truth About Suicide Prediction

There are various questions that pop up surrounding the suicides of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and other famous faces. How can someone so successful take their own life? Did they reach out for help?

When it comes down to it, socioeconomic status and fame don’t prevent the thoughts of those struggling with suicide. While someone may have a genetic predisposition to experience depression or another psychiatric illness, suicidal tendencies are unpredictable and scary for anyone.

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Can we predict these struggling thoughts one experiences that may eventually lead to suicide? Unfortunately, the answer is no. We can only speculate about the psychiatric or substance use tendencies of others. We can look at statistics to help guide us to see if a specific person has an increased risk of attempting suicide, but it is completely uncertain if someone will succeed.

Yet suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Rates have increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016 by 28 percent. North Dakota and Vermont saw the largest spike over this time period. More than half of these individuals had not been diagnosed with a previous mental health condition, which can make it even more difficult to detect those who may be secretly struggling with thoughts of ending their life.

Nonetheless, there are several factors that are linked to suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the most common factors in those with both known or unknown mental health conditions include relationship problems, crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks and problematic substances.

Getting help is the fastest way to treat psychiatric symptoms that may lead to thoughts of suicide. Support factors like medical services, family and spirituality can make a difference. It can be difficult for some people to reach out that’s why I can’t emphasize enough to be supportive, empathic and provide resources and help to someone who you think may be struggling with psychiatric issues. If someone tells you they are having thoughts of killing themselves, do not leave them alone and get them help immediately.

800 273 TALK is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Text 741741 for CRISIS help in the United States.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is Chief Resident of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.