Is Suicide an Option?
There are 121 suicides per day. Per day! Many wouldn’t consider suicide as an option but clearly some do. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the States. One in 25 suicide attempts results in death. This means 3, 025 people a day attempt suicide. Due to these alarming numbers the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has deemed September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
As a professional in the mental health industry and having lost my cousin to suicide four years ago I know first hand that suicide is an option to some and the rest of us need to inform ourselves on how to help.
Here are some warning signs and practical ways to support.
If a person talks about:
• Being a burden to others
• Feeling trapped or stuck
• Experiencing unbearable pain or overwhelming emotions
• Having no reason to live or believing they have no hopeful future
• Killing themselves
If behaviors include:
• Increased use of alcohol or drugs
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
• Experimenting with ways to kill themselves
• Acting recklessly
• Withdrawing from activities
• Not planning for the future
• Isolating from family and friends
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Giving away prized possessions or sentimental gifts
• Previous suicide attempts or family history of suicide attempt
If a person exhibits:
• Loss of interest
What you can do:
• Take suicidal comments seriously
• Validate the person’s feelings by acknowledging and accepting their feelings instead of rationalizing them away
• Be compassionate and gentle as the person is already feeling extremely sensitive and is trusting you by being vulnerable
• Let the person know you are concerned
• Remove all means of self harm
• If the person appears to be an immediate risk to hurting themselves do not leave them alone and if necessary call 911 for help
• If they are not already doing so, encourage the person to talk to others about their feelings and to see a professional
• Be available to talk, to listen, to comfort and, when appropriate, to “distract” them by doing something together that may give them a sense of peace
*above information from National Institute for Mental Health and
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Two Things to Keep In Mind:
• Most people who are depressed and suffering want things to change and to be better even more than you do. If it’s difficult for you, imagine how difficult it is for them.
• If a person attempts suicide but isn’t able to complete the act be careful not to minimize the severity of the attempt. Be sure to take the attempt seriously.
There is no single cause or “cure” for depression and suicidal ideation. It’s different for everyone. Chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, living with a mental illness, experiencing prolonged stress are all risk factors. But with support a person can overcome, learn to cope, survive and even thrive.
This is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Spread the information!