Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Suicides are on the rise, have H.O.P.E., resources available

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Suicides are on the rise, have H.O.P.E., resources available

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

During the pandemic, our global distress increased. Loss of loved ones to COVID-19, rising food and gas prices, losing a job, financial challenges, increased alcohol and substance use, and overdose, domestic violence, and racial turmoil added to the social variables of suicide ideation. Being suddenly homeless, not feeling safe and isolated from friends and family created insecurity in our daily lives. Keep walking.

If you find yourself in a black hole of grief, filled with disappointment, anger, and bitterness. Don’t despair. Life can be an emotional roller coaster at times. This is a common reaction to life. If you have thoughts of suicide, get help. Place the call! If you’re feeling hopeless, these feeling will pass. Have H.O.P.E.: Hold-on-Pain-Ends! Being emotionally disoriented is temporary. Being sad, lonely, hurt, and feeling lost is a natural feeling. You may be limping along, but you are still alive. Your life can improve. Just step on the stone as it appears. Go “fear-ward” and be willing to change.

 No one is free from adversity and the struggles of life. When a person commits suicide, the sudden and traumatic death is painful for surviving family members and loved ones. This is traumatic grief. In times of conflict, life struggles, and war, there are unanswerable questions as to why a person died, or how they died or why they took their life. An estimated 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. One in every 100 deaths in 2019 were the results of suicide. The global suicide rate is over twice as high among men than women. Over half (58%) of all deaths by suicide occur before the age of 50 years old. Suicide occurs across all regions in the world. Over three quarters (77%) of global suicides in 2019 occurred in low-and middle-income countries, according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

Suicide is the twelfth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, over a million people attempted suicide. In America, on average there are 130 suicides per day. In 2020 firearms accounted for over 52% of all suicide deaths. United States Veterans are more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes. The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide, according to Doreen Marshall, Ph.D. AFSP Vice President of Mission Engagement.

If you get help, you won’t regret that you did. Your loved ones will be happy you’re still alive. When a loved one commits suicide, the survivor searches for answers, searching for understanding. Yet some questions cannot be fully answered. It’s natural to search for understanding when a traumatic event happens according to Joanne M. Steen, MS, NCC and M Regina Asaro, MS, RN, CT from - Military Widow: A Survival Guide. They go on to say: Usually, the first questions are why did God let this happen? It’s easy to blame God and be angry at him. Grief affects every part of who you are. How and why your loved one died has a great impact on your grief. Wherever you travel, you take your emotions with you. Even the worst trauma can produce positive changes in you.

Many factors can increase the risk for suicide or protect against it. Suicide is connected to other forms of injury and violence. For example, people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence have a higher suicide risk. Being connected to family and community support and having easy access to health care can decrease suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

According to Doreen Marshall, Ph.D. AFSP Vice President of Mission Engagement. She goes on to say, suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. Other Americans with higher-than-average rates of suicide are veterans, people who live in rural areas, and workers in certain industries and occupations like mining and construction.

Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to their peers who identify as heterosexual. Be nice to yourself. When in doubt contact:  or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. Starting this week, the Veterans Crisis Line is: “988.” Other resources are available at

Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at the website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.


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