Imagine roughly one million people—a population sizeable to the city of San Francisco—who die each year. Imagine that this entire population can die without discrimination, blind to race, gender, income, education or creed. Imagine that within this group, many have an underlying, diagnosable mental illness at their time of death. Imagine that within this population, there are roughly only five people who have the professional knowledge to help prevent these deaths.
Just like heart disease or diabetes, mental illness is a treatable medical condition. And with one in five Americans suffering from mental illness, and suicide rates on the rise, the time is now to break the stigmas around mental illness we have culturally constructed. This starts with educating ourselves and having open conversations to bring hope and support to those suffering.
Whether you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, together we can absolve the biggest myth of all—that the journey is one that must be faced alone, when in fact, we are never alone.
Below, are the stats and myths on suicide globally today. Let’s do our part to contain this reality, and step into our power as friends, as lovers, as colleagues, as victims and as humans —
Know the Facts:
- Approximately 1 million people die of suicide in the world each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide for those aged between 15-29.
- For every suicide committed, there are 25 attempted suicides.
- Three in four suicides in the U.S. are committed by men. One man dies by suicide every 20 minutes.
- Populations with the highest rate of suicide in the U.S. include veterans, Native Americans, white males and the LGBTQ community, with more than half of transgendered youth attempting suicide.
- In the last 45 years the rate of suicide has gone up by 25% in the U.S. That is 1 every 40 seconds, which is estimated to increase to 1 every 20 seconds by 2020.
- 90% of all suicide incidences are associated with mental disorders, particularly depression, PTSD and substance abuse.
- Nearly 44 million adults suffer from a mental illness in a year, and 10 million adults (1 in 25) in the U.S. have a serious mental illness.
- There is a shortage of mental health practitioners (psychiatrists and nurses) to provide care. This is especially in the case of low-income developing countries, some of which only have 0.04 psychiatrists and 0.42 nurses per 100,000 people.
- More than 50% of people with mental illnesses do not seek treatment. Men are less likely to seek help than woman.
Reverse the Myths:
Myth: Mental illness is a flaw or weakness in character.
Fact: Mental illness, like diabetes, a heart condition or any chronic illness, is not about character. Biological and environmental factors both play a role in chronic illness, including mental illnesses.
Myth: Those with mental illness are violent and crazy.
Fact: Those with mental illness are likely to have been victims of violence rather than perpetrators. Trauma and violence are some of the leading risk factors leading to mental illness.
Myth: Someone who is smart and successful would never commit suicide.
Fact: Suicide happens across all populations, no matter race, ethnicity, culture, education background or socio-economic standing.
Myth: People with mental illnesses are just seeking to get attention.
Fact: Most people with mental illnesses attempt to mask or hide their mental illness due to the stigmas around mental illness. The majority who have a mental illness never seek help and are not just trying to get attention. Sadly, silence often besets those with mental illness.
Myth: Treatments for mental illness are ineffective and don’t work.
There are many options to treating mental illness, including counseling, medication community support groups, complementary health approaches and education. Strong connections to family and community support are key in recovery.
Myth: There is no hope for those with mental illnesses.
Fact: There is hope. But the first thing to uncovering that hope is by understanding mental health. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to health. Luckily there are resources out there to help you learn more about mental illness and suicide prevention.
What will you do with this knowledge?
Heads Up Guys: Focused on men’s mental health and suicide prevention
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Resource for suicide prevention hotline
Man Therapy: Provides resources and education for men around mental health and suicide prevention
SAVE: Suicide education and prevention
Man Up Against Suicide: Collection of documentary narratives sharing experiences of male depression and suicide
For Like Minds: Supportive community forum for those with mental illness, substance abuse and stressful life events
Last Week Tonight: John Oliver on mental health stigmas
Screening for Mental Health: Anonymous screening to see if you or someone you know may need to reach out for professional help
The Assemblage is a proud partner of the Movember Foundation, which raises money and awareness to a difference for men’s health – in prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention, and mental health. We’re offering a special Movember hotel package at The Assemblage John Street, as well as 20% off new Assembly and House memberships when a tour is booked with the code MOVEMBER. Learn more here.