Suicide Prevention

Suicide trend statistics are disturbing...as of 2014, suicide is now the second leading cause of death in the United States for young people between 10 and 34, overtaking homicide. People are now a bigger danger to themselves than others are to them. 


for comparison, here are the same statistics from 10 years earlier...note the changes in the 10-34 age group...


Pop Quiz: What's the one thing someone can do to reduce the probability they will consider or commit suicide? 

Answer: Sleep more.

This insight is taken from data included in a CDC study of a "cluster" of suicides in Santa Clara County, California. Here's a link to summaries of the report and the report itself:




Check out Table 42 from the report. Notice the item "Sleep difficulties interfering with daily functioning". It has an "OR" or Odds Ratio of 2.44. That means that someone who is experiencing difficulty sleeping so much that it is interfering with their daily functioning is 2.44 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than someone who isn't having difficulty sleeping. 

This relationship between lack of sleep and suicide makes sense. Lack of sleep has two important impacts: it reduces our ability to make good decisions, and there are a variety of biological processes that maintain brain functioning that occur during sleep. Considering suicide is an irrational thought that is not part of our design. The way suicide can even be considered is for our brain to be hindered or short-circuited, which is what lack of sleep does to the brain. If you know of someone having trouble sleeping, take the issue very seriously and help them find a way to get back to normal sleep patterns. 

Items in the table with a value of less than one are things that can be done to reduce the likelihood that someone will have suicidal thoughts.  

Some suggestions for helping someone who is having trouble sleeping to sleep:
1) Get help from a doctor.

2) Remove all electronics from all bedrooms in the house (be a good example).

3) Exercise more.

4) Just go to bed, ideally at the same time every day.

5) Reduce exposure to electronic media a few hours before bedtime. The light in the blue end of the spectrum put off by electronics can interfere with sleep.

6) If the bedroom is exposed to outside street lighting, use thick curtains to shield the bedroom from the street lighting. Many communities are replacing street lights with LED bulbs which typically have more light in the blue end of the spectrum which interferes with sleep.

7) Don't eat or drink foods that interfere with sleep. This varies by person.

8) Don't set an alarm to wake up. Wake up naturally (at the top of the sleep cycle, rather than when the alarm goes off). 

This is a starting point. See what works for you or your loved ones, but make sure everyone is getting enough sleep.
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