Ken Beaton: You decide: Call to reduce suicide rate is urgent

Ken Beaton

Ken Beaton

What’s your first thought when you hear the word “suicide?” If the word feels like someone had thrust a 14-inch Roman sword upward in your abdomen to pierce your small intestines and stomach, you and I have lost someone to suicide. If the word doesn’t affect you, you haven’t lost anyone to suicide, YET.

You’re wondering why I added the word “YET!” Listed below are 11 suicide facts at, “a global movement of 5.5 million young people making positive change, online and off.”

Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.

In the U.S., suicide rates are highest during the spring.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to 24-year-olds and second for 24-to-35-year-olds.

On average, one person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes.

Each suicide intimately affects at least six other persons.

About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that’s untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the No. 1 cause of suicide.

There’s one suicide for every 25 attempted suicides.

Males make up 79 percent of all suicides, while women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts.

One in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.

There are two times as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.

More than 50 percent of all suicides are completed with a firearm.

Speaking for myself, I don’t have an easy time losing someone I have known and cared about for years or decades to a disease. Last year I felt a great loss when a caring, gifted and loving person who positively affected hundreds if not thousands in Carson City ended her life. Last month, I experienced the loss of one of my two brothers-in-law. Maybe it’s because I’m a competitive person, but losing a person I respect to suicide is similar to me receiving a vicious backhand. The person who committed suicide never shared their feelings. I never had a clue.

I want you to reread the 11 bullet points. I didn’t mention the U.S. Army in 2001 had 9.4 suicides per 100,000 active duty Army personnel. In 2012 the number jumped to 29.9 per 100,000! To have a member of our armed forces performed their responsibilities in a hostile foreign country only to return home and take their own life is a horrible loss. We need to come together as a team to reduce their suicide rate.

How can we reduce the number of suicides a year? I apologize because I don’t know the answer. I would like to begin a discussion. What if each of us said one compliment to each person we see every day? Come on, who doesn’t like to hear something nice about themselves? Even the “Ah shucks, I’m so embarrassed,” person deep down inside feels better hearing when someone tells them they’re smart, have a nice smile, their hair style compliments the shape of their face or the color of their outfit looks great.

Let’s say you took three minutes to read this commentary. Do you realize while you were reading, almost three people attempted suicide? One attempt could have been successful.

The lyrics from the movie/television show, MASH, “Suicide is Painless.” Suicide isn’t painless for the survivors. My two wishes for you are you never know a person who ends their life and you’re never the person who discovers a person who completed a suicide.

What change(s) are you going to make to help reduce the suicide rate? is one possibility or there could be another website that appeals to you. For 2017 at least one Carson High School senior project is about suicide awareness. On April 24, I hope I’m fortunate to be a judge on her presentation panel.

Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.


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