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Understanding Suicide


Dr. Gayani DeSilva MD


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Gayani DeSilva is a Child Adolescent Psychiatrist with 20 years experience. She is the author of A Psychiatrists Guide: Helping Parents Reach Their Depressed Tween, and A Psychiatrists Guide: Stop Teen Addiction Before It Starts.

One suicide a year is too many. In 2017, there were 47, 173 suicides leading to death. There were over 1,300,000 suicide attempts. The current rate of suicide in the US is the highest it has been in over 10 years, and the numbers continue to grow. It's time we start to understand suicide, and prevent it.


Know the signs of suicidal thinking: Talking about wanting to die, increased use of alcohol and other substances, looking for ways to kill oneself, feeling hopeless, talking about being a burden to others, acting anxious, restless and agitated, feeling like they are a burden, feeling unbearable pain, poor sleep, mood swings, withdrawing from others and isolating.


Depression affects 20-25% of Americans every year. But other illnesses can increase a person's suicidal risk. Chronic and extreme pain states, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction and psychosis too can lead to suicide attempts. Also some personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder. A history of trauma also can lead to suicide attempt and self harm.


Suicide can be prevented. Only half of people suffering from depression are getting help. 80-90% of people who get help resolve their depression.


Prevention of Suicide: 1) take all suicidal statements and attempts seriously 2) get help from professionals 3) Medication and therapy do work 4) dispel stigma about mental illness 5) treat (and stop) substance use

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