Jessamine County Coroner

Suicide

The notion of a loved one ending their life at their own hand is one that most of us will never be able to comprehend. However, here in Jessamine County, as well as the rest of the state, and for that matter the country, suicide has become more commonplace than ever before.

Researchers have compiled volumes of documentation in attempts to identify not only the underlying compulsion for committing suicide, but how the event is triggered.  Regardless of these studies, we must always face the many questions that arise and the tumult of emotions that erupt within our family and social circle.

Why did they do it? Why didn’t they talk to someone? Why was there no alternative? Why didn’t I see it?  Why didn’t I or someone else do something? Why? Why? Why…………… 

I am not a psychiatrist, or a psychologist but I have seen more than my share of this kind of tragic death in my various medical careers and too many times as Coroner.  What I do know about suicide is very little, but I would like to offer for thought the following:

In 2007 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death at 34,598 deaths                                                                  

Suicide was the 7th leading cause of death in men and the 15th leading cause for women

The major risk factors for suicide are:

Depression/other mental illness or substance abuse disorder (accounts for 90% of all suicides)

Prior suicide attempt

Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse

Firearm in the home (used in more than 50% of suicides in U.S.)

Incarceration

Exposure to suicidal behavior of others, (family, friend, celebrity)

In 2007, Kentucky ranked third throughout the nation for death by suicide behind Utah (1st) and West Virginia (2nd)

Jessamine County ranked 110 by county in Kentucky

Since depression is so relevant and is frequently associated with substance abuse including prescription medications, we need to be aware of its warning signs; but remember that everyone who exhibits a symptom may not be suffering depression.

Persistent sadness, uncaring or empty mood

Hopelessness or pessimism

Guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

Loss of interest in pleasure, hobbies, activities

Loss of energy, fatigue

Difficulty concentrating, memory loss

Loss of appetite

Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempt

If you think you or a loved one may be suicidal, don’t wait; get help right away.  That may mean getting them to a hospital or if necessary, calling 911 and asking for assistance.  If there are firearms, and/or narcotics in the home, try to remove them unceremoniously.  If you are convinced they are truly suicidal don’t leave that person alone and don’t let them talk you out of getting help for them. 

A closing reminder is that depression seems more rampant during the holidays, probably associated with old memories or desperate financial circumstances. To avoid the extra stress associated with the holidays, just enjoy the family, minister to others when you can, and don’t get too caught up in what you can’t afford.

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