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July 3, 2020
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Sept. is suicide prevention month

By: Irene Hilsendager
August 23, 2019

Is suicide contagious? Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States for all ages.

However, it seems suicide deaths for teenagers has increased as of late even though suicide has taken the lives of over 44,000 in the United States. Every year the highest suicide rate is in the United States and among them are Caucasian, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Around 32 percent of high school students have feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 17 percent said they considered attempting suicide, 14 percent made a suicide plan and seven percent tried to kill themselves.

There is one suicide for every 25 suicide attempts and one suicide for every four suicide attempts in the elderly. Alaska is the largest state in the United States for having the highest suicide rate with Montana having the highest suicide among the US states. California had a 10.5 suicide rate per 100,000 people individually. 

Researching suicide rates by countries, it seems the Eastern European countries are on top. The lowest rates are in the Caribbean Islands.

Now according to the WHO, the suicide rate in South Korea is the tenth highest in the world. Many are among the elderly. In Japan the leading cause of death in men are the ages of 24-44 and in women 15-34. With a high culture tolerance for suicide Japanese families think suicide is honorable and many elders end their lives after retirement as a way out so as to not burden their children with financial problems.

A new report shows a troubling trend of veterans committing suicides on VA hospital campuses, especially after receiving inadequate care from VA facilities.

Is the Department of Veterans’ Affairs offering enough services in the mental health department?

While rates of suicide were among the highest for younger veterans-18-34 and lower and vets ages 55-and older, vets ages 55 and older accounted for 58.1 percent of all veteran suicide deaths a few years back.

Veteran suicide presents a challenge to the Pentagon and the military services claims they have instituted programs to save lives and promote prevention.

In many cases, family and friends are affected by a suicide loss and feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking freely. A fact that gets thrown around is suicide is often the result of untreated mental health conditions. Suicidal thoughts should not be considered normal and should get looked at as a more serious issue.

There are warning signs, but sometimes family and close friends think it’s just a phase especially for teenagers. Do you ever hear someone say, “I wish I wasn’t here?” Is the increased use of drugs and alcohol, has the behavior become more aggressive, have they withdrawn from friends, etc. Are there severe mood swings and do they draw things about death?

If there is immediate danger such as giving away possessions, saying good bye to friends, the mood shifts become very calm as they already have their plan in action and make sure there are no weapons around.

If you are not sure about the sign you are seeing, get in touch with a mental health professional immediately.

Other risk factors can be access to fire arms, a chronic medical illness, prolonged stress, a recent tragedy or loss and even agitation and sleep deprivation will trigger things.

Teens are willing to try anything, or peer pressure is a factor. In Broward County in southern Florida, a huge epidemic has arisen in the past two years. There is a new designer drug on the market called “flakka” It is found to have the same class of chemicals as in bath salts. It is a synthetic drug that can be snorted, smoked, injected and even ingested.

“Flakka” comes in a crystalline rock form and is sold online, manufactured in drug labs in China and can be ordered to be delivered to your home. This drug is highly addictive both physically and psychologically. It is as potent as crystal meth, bath salts and cocaine. User become very aggressive, hallucinate, loss of memory and acting impulsive.

Affects may include hypertension with an elevated heart rate and a hypermetabolic state that can lead to hyperthermia. In some parts of the country flakka is called gravel because of its white crystal chunks. Flakka can be much more dangerous than cocaine. Probably what has brought flakka the most attention is it gives the user the strength and fury of someone with extreme strength. A dose of flakka can go for only $3 to $5 which makes it a cheap alternative to cocaine.

Flakka resembles white or pink gravel or grains of sand. It is foul smelling and also comes as a powder. Those who use it can sweat profusely, are disoriented, paranoia, extreme agitations, panic attacks and feel everyone is after them, slurred speech and these effects can occur five to fifteen minutes after ingesting.

If someone exhibits bizarre or harmful behaviors after taking flakka, call 911 immediately. Do not engage with the person because they will most likely become violent.

Flakka is made from synthetic version of an amphetamine-like stimulant in the cathinone class called alpha-PVP. Cathinone’s are chemicals gotten from khet plants originating in the Middle East and Somalia where the leaves are chewed for a buzz.

Is the medical community prepared for this epidemic? After being addicted, will suicides increase among the young set of people? Parents beware of crystals in your homes. The CDC says suicide rates are increasing.