Stigma, Statistics, & Suicide

The stigma surrounding mental illness can be so overwhelming that it can cause many people who are truly suffering to be too scared or ashamed to seek out help. The statistics are even scarier. I touched on quite a few in my last post, but I feel this is information that bears repeating.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 2.7% of the U.S. population suffers from bipolar disorder. Of the population that is affected by this particular disorder, 82.9% will suffer from severe impairments, more so than with any other mood disorder.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has discovered similar facts through extensive research. Although there is no one particular cause of bipolar disorder, researchers and doctors posit that a number of factors could play a role. Those with a close relative with the disorder, especially a parent, are more likely to develop this disorder. Trauma can sometimes be a trigger for the disorder to manifest itself. The abuse of drugs and/or alcohol can also possibly be a trigger.

People with bipolar disorder have a 9.2% less life expectancy, making the average age for people with the disorder between 55-66. This is partly due to the high suicide rates of people suffering from bipolar disorder.

Approximately 19% of people with the disorder will commit suicide. This is one of those facts that bears repeating.

That in of itself should be alarming to anyone and everyone.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34, according to NAMI. The suicide death of a person with bipolar disorder accounts for approximately 12% of all suicides.

There is an article written by Michael G. Pipich, entitled “Bipolar Disorder and Suicide: What 12,000 Lives Can Teach Us”. Pipich, a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFT) with a Master’s Degree, also suffers from bipolar disorder. However, he makes a great point when it comes to this specific issue.

The article focused on the need “to learn the lessons of poor bipolar care before it’s too late.” Approximately 12,000 people with bipolar disorder commit suicide every year. Again, just another shocking reality.

He also touched upon the shame and fear of treatment a person has due to the stigma around the illness. In fact, he said that may be the main cause of the enormous amount of suicides we see every year. 12,000 people out of a “group” of nearly 7 million kill themselves every year. Every year. That’s insane. And it’s insane that people who don’t have a mental illness don’t recognize the serious need for proper treatment for those that do.

I refuse to feel ashamed of who I am.

And that’s all I can say.

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