More lives are taken by suicide than by acts of war, terrorism and homicide combined worldwide. This fact may shock you, but let us shine some light on the all-too-frequently-ignored mental illness facts, and suddenly this statement won’t seem so staggering.
In both Canada and the United States, 1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness and 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness by the time they’re 40 according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. With men making up 50.4% of the Canadian population, that means that there are more people in Canada who will have experienced a mental illness than there are women.
Unfortunately, of these millions of sufferers, most will go without treatment. As stated by CMHA, approximately 3.2 million youths aged 12 to 19 experience mental illness, and only 1 in 5 receive help of any kind. This isn’t without repercussion.
Over the last 20 years suicide rates have been rising dramatically, especially for those aged 15-24 where suicide is responsible for 24% of all deaths -the second leading cause according to CAMH. In America suicide rates have been rising steadily since the ‘90s, and by 2% every year since 2006 states Sabrina Tavernise’s article, “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High”. In Canada it’s now estimated that 210 people will attempt to take their own lives each day.
Hauntingly, these statistics aren’t typically viewed as accurate. In reality the rates are estimated to be higher, but with the stigma and shame associated with suicide, many cases go unreported.
The mental illness crisis that is facing us, and especially the youth, is very real. And it’s getting worse.