Maj. Demietrice Pittman, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Eisenhower Army Medical Center
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing your own death. It is an overlooked epidemic in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is the 13th-leading cause of death worldwide and the National Safety Council rates it sixth in the United States. It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35. The rate of suicide is higher in men than in women. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide.

People often mistakenly think that if you talk about it, it may make people consider it. This is a myth.

"Awareness of the signs and symptoms is the best prevention," Sgt. Tisheena King, EAMC Suicide Prevention NCO, said. She is organizing and distributing awareness material during the month of September, which is recognized as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

"Sept. 10, is also World Prevention Day," King said. "The Department of Behavioral Health is working to make sure people understand the warning signs for suicide and what they can do to help others."

Know the warning signs

• Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like "I wish I wasn't here" but can become more overt and dangerous

• Increased alcohol and drug use

• Aggressive behavior

• Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community

• Dramatic mood swings

• Talking, writing or thinking about death

• Impulsive or reckless behavior

What can you do?

If you think your friend or family member will hurt herself or someone else, call 911 immediately. There are a few ways to approach this situation.
• Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills

• Calmly ask simple and direct questions, such as "Can I help you call your psychiatrist?" rather than, "Would you rather I call your psychiatrist, your therapist or your case manager?"

• Talk openly and honestly about suicide. Don't be afraid to ask questions such as "Are you having thoughts of suicide?" or "Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?"
• Ask what you can do to help

• Don't argue, threaten or raise your voice

• Don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong

"The Department of Behavioral Health at EAMC, King said, "is willing to offer any assistance, and provides service for active-duty military walk-ins every day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has providers on call in the Emergency Department 24 hours a day. Individuals can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number, 1-800-273-8255. You do not have to go it alone."