In 2016 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that showed suicide rates increased in nearly every state of the union between 1999 and 2016, and the increase nationwide was more than 30%.

In 2016 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that showed suicide rates increased in nearly every state of the union between 1999 and 2016, and the increase nationwide was more than 30%. For a generation people have been taking their own lives at increasingly alarming rates. Now, twice as many Americans die by their own hands than die by homicide. Earlier this month we were shocked to learn of the deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef/media personality Anthony Bourdain.

These served to put faces to the grim statistics, and placed an exclamation mark on the dawning of our awareness of this problem. The rate of increase in Texas is almost identical to the national average, but rural populations have higher rates than do urban dwellers. It is baffling what one discovers by digging into the statistics. More than half (54%) of completed suicides were in people who did not have a known mental health condition. The number of people who have been on antidepressants has tripled since 2000, and now stands at 15 million.

An interesting side note was provided by a recent study of marijuana use, which asked the question, “Does a single use of marijuana improve depressive symptoms?” The answer provided by the data is that a single use of marijuana may improve depressive symptoms, but habitual use undoubtedly makes depressive symptoms worse.

So what can be done?

Know the 12 warning signs:

· Being isolated

· Increased anxiety

· Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

· Increased substance use

· Looking for a way to access lethal means

· Increased anger or rage

· Extreme mood swings

· Expressing hopelessness

· Sleeping too little or too much

· Talking or posting about wanting to die

· Making plans for suicide

Know the 5 Steps to help someone at risk:

1. Ask.

2. Keep them safe.

3. Be there.

4. Help them connect.

5. Follow up.

Find out how this can save a life by visiting: www.BeThe1To.com

This article is intended to provide general information only, and is not to be taken as medical advice. For advice about a particular case or situation, consult your own physician or other trusted health professional.

This column is a service of The Health and Wellness Coalition of Runnels County which now meets every second Thursday at 7 pm. The next meeting will be in the conference room at North Runnels Clinic on July 12. In addition, everyone is invited to join us each Thursday for a healthcare provider led walk, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. in the Ballinger City Park. We meet at the Pavilion. Bring water. Stay hydrated.