Behavioral Health’s Contribution To Lowering Suicide Incidents In The US

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. That translates to 47,173 Americans dying because of suicide just in 2017. Moreover, apart from these suicide cases, 1,400,000 more suicide attempts were recorded. These numbers mean that for every single waking day, 129 people die while taking their own lives. Some reports diagnosed mental health concerns in more than 90% of the people who die by suicide. This state makes it valid to target the behavioral health’s improvement to at least lower the number of suicide incidents.


Talk Therapy

“While suicide is a very serious health and national problem that requires our attention, an even less public reality is that many of us have had suicidal thoughts at one point or another in our lives,” explains Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC. The thing about people with suicidal thoughts is that they do not need a big group to keep them company, but few people who are willing to listen. They need someone with whom they can talk to and will not judge them about their thoughts and feelings. Individuals with suicidal thoughts need people who are eager to understand; but if others cannot understand, they need people who will still accept them despite the flaws.

This interaction is a good thing about talk therapy. It allows people who experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other mental illnesses to talk things over. “Therapy helps people to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationships, become free of old patterns, or simply find ways to process pain or memories that have kept them feeling stuck,” adds Dr. Mitch Keil, a clinical psychologist

Talk therapy will enable them to be open about their issues and destroys the lie that they have to go through this all by themselves. It reassures them of a company that would be with them through the journey. Through talk therapy, the patients can process their thoughts better and will have the opportunity to be exposed to other perspectives. Sometimes, seeing things from a new and positive light makes all the difference.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

To take things a step further, we could note that cognitive behavioral therapy works not just to talk to people with suicidal thoughts but to help them change their mindset and responses to suicide triggers. During the sessions, the therapist and patient work together to identify the problem, understand it, and develop new ways to deal with it.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the personal meaning that patients attach to things that happen in their lives, which could be rooted in their thinking patterns from way back in their childhood. “Cognitive behavioral therapy, often shortened to CBT, focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and changing thoughts and behaviors and feelings through concrete skills,” explains Hannah Goodman, LMHC.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps the patient sort out negative thoughts by stepping out of the automatic negativities and testing them out. Somehow, patients are taught to disrupt their anxious thoughts with things like, “Hey, what if it works out after all?” or “It could be a bit challenging, but I have been through more challenging things before and here I am, I overcame it before, and I can still overcome it now.”

In effect, the therapy aims to weed out the unnecessary thoughts that come with anxiety, correct any misinterpretations, and allow the patients to approach their problems realistically.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy

On the other hand, Dialectical Behavior Therapy focuses on providing therapeutic skills in 4 areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Its end goal is to seek a balance of what is internal and external to the patient, as well as the forces affecting their thoughts and emotions.

First, mindfulness helps patients improve their ability to accept and cope with what is happening to them at the moment. It grounds them to the present realities.

Then, distress tolerance teaches patients how they can deal face-to-face with their negative thoughts and not just find ways to escape it, because sooner or later, it will haunt them over again.

After that, emotion regulation guides patients towards managing how they feel about their problems and how they can effectively temper intense feelings.

Finally, interpersonal effectiveness allows patients to communicate with other people in a way that is both assertive and with self-respect. It is because strong and genuine relationships are vital for making people feel their purpose and worth.

Those people who are experiencing intense stress levels, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, or learning disabilities are very prone to committing suicide. The same is true with those who are struggling with grief and addition.

As such, it would be a great help for them if they are to receive behavioral health interventions that could allow them to cope and eventually overcome their mental health issues. This way, the risk of them taking suicide as the only viable solution to their problems would also be minimized. Now, more than ever, people need ways to improve their mental health states before it becomes too late.

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