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  • Writer's pictureShannon Wiggins

Suicide Prevention IS Possible

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The goal is to bring awareness to an all too common, but rarely spoken of topic. Suicide.

Suicide is a health crisis in the United States. In fact, every 15 minutes a person dies by suicide in the U.S. More people are dying from suicide than car crashes. The numbers are staggering. And the sad truth is, it’s not only adults dying by suicide each day. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in children and the 3rd in adolescents. 10% of high school students attempt suicide each year, and it’s the 4th leading cause of death for adults. And 54% of people that die by suicide do not have a known mental health condition. This means you don't have to be suffering from clinical depression to have thoughts of ending your life. The good news is, prevention is possible and anyone can help prevent. You don’t need to be a mental health professional to do so. You just need to know the signs.

What are some of the warning signs of suicide?

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous.

  • Long-lasting sadness, dramatic mood swings, and unexpected rage.

  • Increased alcohol and drug use.

  • Feeling hopeless about the future, with little expectation that circumstances can improve. Talking about having no purpose.

  • Talking about being a burden to others.

  • Talking, writing or thinking about death.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.

  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community.

  • Suddenly becoming calm after a period of depression or moodiness can be a sign that the person has made a decision to end his or her life.

  • Putting their affairs in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.

  • Saying goodbye to family and friends.

What are the risk factors for suicide?

  • A family history of suicide.

  • A recent tragedy or loss.

  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.

  • People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.

  • Access to firearms.

  • Prolonged stress.

  • A serious or chronic medical illness.

  • Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?

  • Just ask! Don't be afraid to ask if he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide. There are 3 main questions to consider:

  • Have you wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?

  • Have you actually had any thoughts about killing yourself?

  • Have you done anything, started to do anything, or prepared to do anything to end your life? Examples: Collected pills, obtained a gun, gave away valuables, wrote a will or suicide note, held a gun but changed your mind, cut yourself, tried to hang yourself, etc.

  • In some cases, the person just needs to know that someone cares and is looking for the chance to talk about his or her feelings. You can then encourage the person to seek professional help.

What should I do if I See the warning signs of suicide?

  • Do not leave the person alone. If possible, ask for help from friends or other family members.

  • Ask the person to give you any weapons he or she might have. Take away or remove sharp objects or anything else that the person could use to hurt himself or herself.

  • If the person is already in mental health treatment, help him or her to contact the doctor or therapist for guidance and help.

  • Try to keep the person as calm as possible.

  • Call 911 or take the person to an emergency room.

Remember, every threat of suicide MUST be taken seriously, even if you feel the person is not serious. A suicide threat is always a cry for help. Always get the person to a mental health professional for assessment.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

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