September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Looking at Problem Gambling as a Root Cause

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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Looking at Problem Gambling as a Root Cause

[IMAGE] September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Looking at Problem Gambling as a Root Cause

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Sadly, provisional data for 2022 revealed the highest number of annual deaths by suicide on record. After adjusting for population growth and age, the suicide rate has risen by a shocking 16% since 2011. [1]

FCCG is raising awareness about the relation to disordered gambling, which has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. Statistics show that 1 in 5 compulsive gamblers will attempt suicide.

In her call to the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine, an addicted female slot machine gambler reported that she started gambling during the COVID-19 pandemic and knows of several people within her community that have committed suicide as a result of disordered gambling. [2]

First, why are suicide rates increasing nationally? Experts have yet to come to a definitive conclusion but noted the significance of mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising financial stressors (particularly in light of rising inflation), and difficulty in accessing needed mental health care. [1] Following the onset of the pandemic in 2020, FCCG also highlighted its impacts on the issue of problem gambling as observed through contacts to its HelpLine.

Regardless of what the aggregate statistics may reveal, suicide is a personal concern first, and help and hope are never far away. Anyone in crisis can reach the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline any time of day or night.

[IMAGE] September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Looking at Problem Gambling as a Root Cause

A Crisis within a Crisis: Problem Gambling as the Root Cause

If problem gambling is a factor, the root cause of the suicidal ideation is a crisis of its own which requires urgent attention. If left unaddressed, gambling addiction will lead the individual to back to crisis again and again, whether suicidal or otherwise, as pressures ebb and flow. This is why the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine provides dedicated supports and resources for Floridians suffering from this hidden addiction, 24/7.

Gambling addiction is unique in that it can soar out of control rapidly and cause serious problems in all areas of life, including financial, relational, spiritual, career wise, and emotionally. After compulsive gambling takes hold, the affected individual may at times not recognize him or herself anymore, feel like his or her life is completely out of control, and conclude that there is no way out. The reality is this could not be further from the truth: recovery is possible for disordered gambling, and treatment is available. Thousands find help and hope each year through 888-ADMIT-IT!

The FCCG’s HelpLine Annual Report showed increases across all types of mental health, emotional, and domestic areas during the year, reflecting both the magnitude and severity of difficulties experienced by problem gamblers. Anonymized data collected from 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts revealed higher levels of anxiety (62%), depression (63%), and neurological disorders (20%) compared with the previous year. [2] Of significant note is that almost one-quarter (24%) disclosed suicidal ideations or attempts by the gambler, reflecting a 50% increase from the previous year. When examining mental health, emotional, and domestic problems across genders, HelpLine contacts this year reported higher levels of mental health and emotional difficulties due to gambling experienced by female gamblers, when compared to male gamblers, such as anxiety and depression. [2]

Did you know? All Florida 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Specialists complete Suicide Prevention Training, both annually, as well as prior to responding to their first contacts on the HelpLine.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts as a result of gambling addiction, know you are in professional hands if you call or text the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine. Suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem. There is always a way out of the hopelessness you or a loved one may feel.

[1] Saunders, Heather, and Nirmita Panchal. “A Look at the Latest Suicide Data and Change over the Last Decade.” KFF, 21 Aug. 2023, www.kff.org/mental-health/issue-brief/a-look-at-the-latest-suicide-data-and-change-over-the-last-decade/

[2]“2021–2022 24-Hour Problem Gambling Annual HelpLine Report.” Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, February 2023.

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