The world is a sadder place today with the death of Don Cornelius, the visionary creator and host of “Soul Train.” We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends, and to all who knew and loved him either personally or by watching Soul Train over the years. He changed the world for the better and we will miss him.
Death by suicide is always a tragedy, leaving a profound sense of loss among those who mourn. In the search for meaning and in wondering “why,” we humans tend to want a simple answer and point to a single cause. But suicide is complex. The World Health Organization says it is a combination of psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors. Studies indicate that 90 percent of people who die by suicide suffered from a diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, or both, at the time of their death. We know that there are factors that can help support and protect individuals from suicidal behavior: Effective behavioral health care and connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions are just two of them. And we know that most people who die by suicide don’t really want to die—they just want to stop the pain.
What can we do to prevent suicide?
Journalists—— have a special role in helping to prevent suicides. More than 50 research studies worldwide tell us that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. Conversely, media can positively change public misperceptions, correct myths, and encourage help-seeking among those same individuals. Please see www.ReportingOnSuicide.org for more information.
What can we as individuals do to prevent suicide? First, know that most suicides are preventable. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of suicide. Most importantly, if you are worried about yourself or someone you care about, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK/8255) anytime, day or night. It is completely confidential.
You are not alone. There is help. There is hope.