MARQUETTE — A new study using information released by the Center for Disease Control indicates that more people are dying from self-injury than from Diabetes. Since 2000, there have been 30 percent more cases of suicide, and 80 percent more involving drug and alcohol abuse.
UPHS Marquette professionals say this is something that should alert us. It’s a sensitive topic – one that often has a stigma surrounding it. In recent times, mental health has been talked about more, as prominent figures and celebrities are coming forward, and people around the world are fighting for answers.
“If people have a diagnosis of a mental illness, or somebody is having problems with substance abuse issues, those are definitely warning signs that are there,” said UPHS Psychiatrist, Cameron Wilcox. “We encourage people to be direct, and talk to people about that. If someone is making you concerned, it’s a good idea to discuss what’s going on with them.”
According to Dr. Wilcox, alcohol and drug abuse is often linked to suicide, and because of that, researchers are looking at factors connecting them, and what can be done to move forward in helping those with mental illness.
“In psychiatry, we combine some of that, we do something called ‘co-occurring,’ which means someone has both a mental illness, as well as substance abuse issue,” added Wilcox. “In psychiatry, we address both of those issues at the same time, we look at getting substance treatment, plus treating that mental illness, whether it’s depression or Schizophrenia, whatever somebody might come to see us for.”
The number of cases reporting those illnesses combined with the related factors of drug and alcohol abuse, are now surpassing others like diabetes. 29 people out of 100,000 died from self injury, whereas about 24 out of 100,000 suffered with diabetes. And given the nation’s ongoing battle with the Opioid epidemic, hospitals like UPHS are taking a stand, and promoting safety for those that might be at risk of overdosing, and has even began screening all patients to check on their mental well-being.
“We’re required to review somebody’s recent prescription history – we also look at a score to see how high of a risk they have for unintentionally harming themselves with their medications. The state has asked take a much more proactive role in screening those patients.”
Dr. Wilcox also says that even with the extra screening, some cases of mental illness can go undetected for long periods of time, meaning some who feel they have no other means of help, may take their own lives.
“A very large proportion of people that do commit suicide are actually not diagnosed with mental illness, not that they don’t necessarily have one, but haven’t been in to see a provider and haven’t be diagnosed. This is looking at helping prevent some of that, and helping people get the help they need before they get to that severe point.”
With September being Suicide Prevention Month, there are many ways you can get involved to end the stigma, and help others seek care. If you believe yourself or a loved one needs professional help, please call the Suicide Prevention hotline, at 1-800-273-8255. Remember, someone is always there for you.