COLUMN: Suicide – The hidden risk of addiction and mental health

Mark Jacobson, peer support specialist, Winona

It can be difficult for a person who suffers from addiction and mental health issues to ask for help. Tragically, the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health can make a person feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Addiction and mental health issues also affect the lives of loved ones.

There is no shame in reaching out when you experience unbearable pain and despair. Suicide is a hidden risk of addiction and mental health. Depression, PTSD, and other trauma-related disorders can lead to suicidal thoughts, which can be amplified with the use of drugs or alcohol. If left untreated, addiction and mental health issues can cause serious health complications including death.

People who appear happy, are wealthy, and in good health are not immune to suicidal thoughts. Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people may lose inhibitions and take risks they ordinarily would not. Additionally, many people abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. 

About one in three people who die by suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We can all take action to prevent suicide. According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.”

Mental illness often coexists with substance use disorders or addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and/or addiction, get help now. 

Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Get help today so you can live a healthy, fulfilling, sober life in recovery. There is no cure for addiction, but it is treatable.

Listed below are resources that you can use if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, mental health issues, or addiction:

National Suicidal Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers thay provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distres. They may be reached at  1-800-273-8285.

    SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 36-day-a-year information service, in English of Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 

This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. They may be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you are looking for additional support I may be reached at: