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Opinion: Assessing trauma’s role in chronic stress, suicide [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


Suicide Graphic: National Council for Behavioral Health

The alarming increase in suicide rates in the United States over the past two decades is unprecedented and beyond disturbing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released research reporting “suicide increased by 25 percent across the United States from 1999 to 2016 and a shocking 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016.”

The American Psychological Association calls suicide prevention a public health priority and supports a multifaceted public health approach. A new statement from the APA president reads, “the science and practice of psychology play an essential role in both understanding and addressing the biopsychosocial underpinnings of this issue. This crisis affects people both with and without diagnosed mental health conditions. Suicide is often an act of desperation brought on by an inability to cope with life’s stressors. Addressing the source of those stressors is vital.”

So what are the sources for those stressors? The 2017 Stress in America survey conducted annually for the past decade by the APA, found that the most common sources of stress were: the future of our nation, money, work, the current political climate, and crime and violence. While the public’s overall stress level remains the same, on average, compared to 2016, Americans were more likely to report symptoms of stress, which include anxiety, anger and fatigue.

Another source of stress are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), or childhood trauma. A large body of scientific research that began with a study conducted by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente in 1998 found that childhood trauma causes toxic stress that affects not only the function and structure of the developing brains of young children, but also the physical and emotional well-being of individuals throughout their entire lifetime. Alarmingly, historical 

To read the rest of this opinion piece written by ACEsConnection member Janet Cox, Ph.D., please click here

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