“I had a very long standing battle with bipolar disorder and clinical depression,” said Lorain County Community College student Andrew Krause. “My problem there was that I let it go without treatment. I made the mistake of, instead of confronting the problem, I built my life around it and catered to it.”
Building his life around his mental illness was the tipping point. Krause tried to overdose on prescription drugs in 2006.
In 2014, just under 43,000 Americans die by suicide each year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), which also estimates that 1,491 suicides occurred in Ohio that year.
Suicide can affect anyone at anytime. It does not discriminate based on age, ethnicity, or gender. Therefore, it is convoluted, with no clear singular cause, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Often, there are many contributing factors to push a person to suicidal ideation, or an individual’s state of mind when they are preoccupied with how to commit suicide and wonder what the world would be like without them.
Despite its complexities, suicide does involve behaviors that could be signs that a person is contemplating taking their own life. According to the NIMH, talking about wanting to die, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, talking about being a burden, increased use of alcohol or drugs, giving away possessions, and saying goodbye to friends and family are all behaviors that may be a sign of an individual thinking about or planning to commit suicide.
For Krause, it was the culmination of events that drove his decision to take his own life.
“I mean a lot of it is just poverty,” Krause explained. “It’s the money. I was working a job, living in a bad neighborhood, my rent was $400 a month, which is nothing, but it definitely signifies the area I was living in – which was a lot of drugs, a lot of crime,” he continued. “The method of trying to escape the feeling, had a lot to do with it – the drinking and the drugs, various forms of escapism.”
“The thing about suicide, particularly among younger people,” said LCCC crisis counselor Quentin Kuntz, “is that suicide is painless, but it’s hell getting there.”
Many mental illnesses are precursors to suicidal thoughts or actions. Depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide, according to the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), a nonprofit, charitable organization that promotes the understanding and prevention of suicide. In fact, 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness, per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The most profound impact of this can be seen in military veterans. An estimated 18-22 veterans commit suicide each day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). In 2014, veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths by suicide among American adults, per an Aug. 2016 report from the VA.
NAMI reports that there are three major mental illness concerns among active military personnel and military veterans. These include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and Traumatic Brain Injury, which is usually the result of a critical blow to the head. The resulting report from the VA concludes that, after adjusting for differences in age and gender, risk for suicide was 21 percent higher among Veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adults in 2014.
“I documented it,” Krause said. “Not necessarily a note, but an explanation. It wasn’t directed towards anybody, it was like, ‘In case you find this’,” he said of his own experiences. “It was more kind of like, somebody was going to eventually find me, so here’s an explanation,” Krause continued. “It wasn’t geared towards, ‘This is why, tell this person, give this to this person.’ It was just kind of like ‘Here’s what I’m going through.’”
Overall, suicide is the tenth highest cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. For every successful suicide, there are about 25 attempts, per the AFSP. The cost of such a high suicide rate is unfathomable. The AFSP also estimates that suicide costs the United States about $44 million annually. In the United States there are an estimated 117 suicides per day. In Ohio, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death.