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Suicide is the most preventable cause of death

Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


Sadly, suicide has become a common cause of death. In Missouri, there are 16.3 attempted suicides each day and many of those attempts are made by young people ages 15 to 24. For over a decade, the suicide rate in Missouri has been higher than the national rate.


Gary Hillebrand from Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH) Prevention Services, a mental health facility offering treatment services throughout Missouri, Arkansas and some surrounding states, said that suicide is the most preventable kind of death.


“The suicide rate these days (approximately 13 suicides per 100,000 people) is like as if a full airliner took off and crashed every other day, killing everyone on board,” Hillebrand said. “If this happened, we’d ground planes till we figured out and corrected the problem! The same needs to happen with suicide. Suicide is preventable.”


Hillebrand also described and corrected some of the common myths about suicide and suicide prevention. For example, confronting a person about suicide mostly likely will lower, not raise, the anxiety they are experiencing about their negative feelings. Knowing someone cares enough to ask directly can make a big difference. Also, it’s not just for experts to take care of — everyone can help prevent suicide.


It’s important to take all signs and indications seriously. Watch for direct verbal clues, like “I’ve decided to kill myself” and indirect verbal clues, like “I think I’m being a burden to my family, pretty soon they won’t have to worry about me.” Watch for behavioral clues, like stockpiling pills, giving away prized possessions, or a sudden interest or disinterest in religion. Look for situational clues, like being fired or expelled from school, diagnosis of terminal illness or the sudden death of a loved one.


QPR is a frontline, community-based way to prevent suicide. QPR is the action needed when suicide is suspected:


Q: Ask the suicide Question. Talk in private, ask directly, be persistent (get an answer!) and give them the time it takes to talk through it.

P: Persuade the person to stay alive. Find the help they need, be it from a counselor, spiritual advisor or other professional.

R: Refer the person for help. Ideally, go with them for help or to find resources. At the very least, have them promise they’ll get help.


Help can be found with a professional counselor. For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. When meeting with a counselor is delayed, work with a school counselor, pastor or other professional to work through the immediate life-threatening issues.


For more information on suicide prevention, contact Preferred Family Healthcare at 800-964-7118.


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Last Updated 09/11/2017