Someone in the U.S. dies by suicide every 12 minutes. Dr. Michelle Fiscus, deputy medical director of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Division of Family Health and Wellness, joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss this serious public health problem. View her segment here.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In 2015, 44,193 Americans took their own lives and more than half a million Americans received medical care for self-inflicted injuries. Here in Tennessee, on any given day, three people die by suicide. Affecting people of all ages, it’s among the leading causes of death among young Tennesseans ages 15-24 and young adults 25-34, and at least one person over 45 dies of suicide in Tennessee every day.

Individuals begin to contemplate suicide for a wide variety of reasons including economic stress, relationship problems, experiences of bullying or undiagnosed mental health conditions. Adding to the problem, Tennessee is largely a rural state, which often means a lack of accessible behavioral health services and a heightened stigma of mental illness.

Though suicide can be a difficult issue to talk about, it can be prevented. The month of September is dedicated to suicide prevention awareness in the U.S. A few warning signs of suicidal tendencies in a friend or loved one include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

If you or a loved one are feeling desperate, alone or hopeless, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or in Tennessee, text TN to 741-741 for help.

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Community Health Matters airs on the second Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Central Time, with an encore showing on the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m Central.