September 5 – 11, 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Week. Given the high rate of depression among law students and lawyers, we felt compelled to write a post increasing awareness about suicide and depression.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34. Last year, CNN reported that lawyers rank fourth (behind dentists, pharmacists, and physicians – in that order) in the highest per capita suicide rate. CNN also reports that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers.
This high depression rate also extends to law students. One study found that just before entering law school, law students suffered from depression at the same rate as the general population, but by spring of their first year, 32% were depressed. By spring of their third year, 40% were depressed. Two years after graduation, 17% of the students were still depressed (which is twice the rate of depression as the general population). These rates of depression in the legal community are staggering.
So during this week, we ask you to do two things that will take less than five minutes and will allow you to participate in Suicide Prevention Week: (1) First, text someone who you think is going through a difficult time; and (2) Second, learn to recognize the signs of suicide.
First, text someone who you think is going through a difficult time.
Lack of communication and feelings of isolation can increase chances of suicide. Even something as small as texting someone can make a difference.
You might think that the gesture is too small or unimportant, or you might be self-conscious that you are being too random texting someone out of the blue.
But it can make a difference! So take five minutes to do it. (If you have a few hours a week to give, join the Crisis Text Line – it allows people who need extra support to reach out via text. It’s a very cool idea!)
Second, recognize the signs of suicide.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention there are some key things to look for.
If a person talks about:
- Being a burden
- Feeling trapped
- Experiencing unbearable pain
- Having no reason to live or
- Killing themselves
These are all signs that should be taken seriously! If you are unsure if someone is suicidal, ask them. Some people are afraid to talk about it (thinking that it will cause the person to commit suicide) but those theories have been debunked.
Look out for:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for ways to kill themselves (searching online for materials or means)
- Acting recklessly
- Withdrawing from activities, family, and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
These behaviors are warning signs that someone may be having suicidal thoughts. If you notice any of these behaviors in your family members or friends, take them seriously.
Thank you for your five minutes of time! If you are doing anything else to participate in Suicide Prevention Week, please let us know in the comments below. If you are participating in any fundraisers or walks, please link to your page — we are happy to donate!