July 01, 2000
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts July 2000 Current Issue
July 2000
Short Cuts:

Do you have a close friend or relative who has attempted suicide? Almost half of us do, according a survey by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (, based in New York City. But while suicide accounts for 30,000 deaths in this country each year, it’s a topic we rarely talk about.

Even more alarming: Fewer than half of those who survive a suicide attempt get treatment or therapy after the incident.

Depression is the leading cause of suicide. One-third of clinically depressed patients try to kill themselves and half succeed, according to AFSP. Most (75 percent) first give some sort of warning to family or friends.

People must learn to recognize warning signs and take action to intervene, stresses the AFSP’s president, Dr. David Shaffer. Red flags include talking about death or suicide and getting personal affairs in order. Previous attempts also are cause for concern: Up to half of those who kill themselves have tried it before.

If you’re worried about someone close to you, take warning signs very seriously; listen openly to her concerns; reassure her that these feelings are temporary; strongly encourage professional help; and, in a crisis situation, take her to a hospital or call 911.


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