Friday, March 19, 2010

Save a Life -- Prevent the Tragedy of Spring Suicide

/PRNewswire-/ -- Recent news reports of celebrities and college students taking their own lives highlight the need for vigilance and intervention against the tragedy of suicide. The nation's emergency physicians treat more than half a million suicide attempts every year and urge the public to recognize the signs of suicidal crisis and act right away.

"More than 30,000 people kill themselves every year, which is nearly double the number of homicides in America," said Dr. Angela Gardner, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Increasing public awareness of the risk may help prevent the tragedy of suicide. Many believe - incorrectly - that suicide rates spike over the year-end holidays. In fact, most suicides occur in the spring."

Did you know that:

-- Four times as many men as women die by suicide?
-- The highest death rate by suicide occurs in people ages 65 and older?
-- Living in a rural area elevates the risk of suicide?
-- Having a family member or friend commit suicide raises your risk of
-- Depression, mental illness and substance abuse are the leading
underlying causes of suicide?
Suicide typically comes with warning signs. These include:

-- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself, or talking about wanting to hurt
or kill oneself.
-- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms,
available pills, or other means.
-- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide.
-- Feeling hopeless.
-- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge.
-- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities.
-- Feeling trapped -- like there's no way out.
-- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
-- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
-- Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep, or sleeping all the
-- Experiencing dramatic mood changes, including sudden generosity with
treasured possessions.

If someone expresses a desire to kill himself, do not leave him alone and do not assume the problem will go away by itself. Even if someone attempts suicide and lives, there can be lasting damage to that person and his community. Attempting suicide also raises the risk of a future suicide attempt.

"It's critically important to take any threats of suicide seriously and to intervene immediately," said Dr. Gardner. "Someone contemplating taking their own life needs expert attention right away, either at the emergency department or from a professional trained to treat people in suicidal crisis. You might be the person who saves a life by getting a friend or relative the help they need."

For more information on suicide and other health related topics, go to

ACEP and MedicAlert Foundation are partnering to promote and to educate the public about medical emergencies.

MedicAlert Foundation pioneered the first medical identification and emergency medical information service in 1956 to provide people with a simple but effective method for communicating their medical conditions. Since the organization's founding, MedicAlert Foundation has provided services and products that help to protect and save lives for its 4 million members worldwide. For more than 50 years, the nonprofit foundation has relayed vital medical information on behalf of its members to emergency responders so they receive faster and safer treatment. MedicAlert IDs alert emergency personnel to a member's primary health conditions. In addition to its 24-hour emergency response service, MedicAlert Foundation also provides family and caregiver notification so that members can be reunited with their loved ones. For more information, visit

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

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