Suicide is a topic that many of us aren’t comfortable discussing. It’s emotional, complex and very personal. But, with millions affected by the tragedy in some way, it’s a topic that many are unfortunately familiar with. It’s something that requires more discussion, not less.
September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a month that gives us the opportunity to shine a light on how all of us play a part in preventing suicide. It’s a time for us to have conversation, to remember and to ask questions. All of these are important steps in creating a culture that is more aware of the prevention of suicide.
Here are some key figures about suicide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- More than 41,000 people die every year by suicide
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and is the 2nd leading cause for people aged 15-24 with rates increasing
- For every completed suicide, there are 25 suicide attempts
These alarming statistics hopefully prick our conscience. It should prompt us individually, and collectively, to see the necessity of suicide prevention.But, how can we help prevent suicide? Where do we start?
It’s important to know the signs of someone who’s contemplating suicide and know how to act when you notice.
- Withdrawal from usual activities and from socializing
- Sleeping and eating habits may change (sleeping much more or less, eating much more or less)
- More aggressive behavior
- Very noticeable changes in mood
- Impulsive behavior
- Talk of death or integrating death themes into writing or social media posts
More alarming signs include:
- Comments about not being useful, they may say “I wish I wasn’t such a burden” or “It would be better if I wasn’t here”
- Beginning to put their affairs in order and saying “goodbyes” to loved ones
- Seeming unusually calm and less in turmoil
- Making efforts to get items needed to complete a suicide
If you begin to notice these signs in someone you love, it’s important to stay engaged. If you feel their behavior has changed, it’s okay to gently bring it up and specifically address the behaviors you are concerned about. Make sure to let them know you are concerned about them and want the best for them.
You can also provide them with resources like:
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (1-800-273-TALK)
- NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI. NAMI can also find help in a crisis when you text “NAMI” to 741741.
Professional help should be sought immediately by calling 9-1-1 if a person has explicitly stated they plan to take their life or are actively trying to hurt themself.
Suicide prevention doesn’t stop after September. Being more aware and engaging with those who may be going through difficult times are simple ways you can make an impact in suicide prevention. To learn more about resources for this community, visit TMH.ORG/MentalHealth or Nami.org.
Together, we can help prevent more suicides.