First Things First
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—and unfortunately, there is plenty to be aware of. The statistics surrounding suicide are stark. Here is just a partial list from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people 35-54
- 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
- 90% of those who die by suicide experience symptoms of a mental health condition
- The overall suicide rate in the United States has increased by 31% since 2001
Those numbers are alarming. And the fact that the suicide rate in the United States has increased by nearly a third in the last 20 years demonstrates that the problem is getting worse rather than better. So, what can be done to turn the tide? Well, reducing the national numbers starts by making sure all of us know how to help the people in our lives who are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
And if you yourself are experiencing those thoughts, knowing where to get help is an essential first step toward making sure you don’t become part of the suicide statistics.
What are the Warning Signs of Suicide Risk?
What sorts of behaviors might signal that someone you love is considering suicide? According to NAMI, the signs could include:
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
Talking with someone before they reach the crisis point is an excellent way to help. Encouraging your loved one to get professional help for their mental health issues is a good way to start. You could, for example, offer to help research options for therapy in your community.
If, however, you are dealing with an acute crisis, you’ll want to help your loved one return to a mental state where they are open to getting help.
First and foremost, if you can safely do so, you will want to remove any immediate means of suicide from the situation. You will also want to establish a calm tone for the conversation. That means not arguing about the morality of suicide, keeping the level of noise in the space low, not fidgeting or pacing nervously, and being patient while showing support and concern. Often, a direct question like, “Can I reach out to your therapist for you?” can be a gentle reminder that help is available.
Of course, remembering help is available is also essential if you are personally struggling with suicidal thoughts. Get into treatment for underlying mental health disorders and/or for substance use disorders that might be contributing to your suicidal tendency, and do so early on–when you first find yourself thinking about ending your life.
For example, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you see and address patterns of behavior or thinking that are not serving you well. Developing coping skills for when you are tempted to fall back into old patterns is a key component of therapy and can help you move forward while leaving suicidal thoughts behind.
We Can Help You Focus on Hopefulness
At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are committed to helping individuals improve their lives. By addressing mental health disorders and/or substance use disorders with expertise and compassion, we work to instill a spirit of hopefulness in our clients. If you or someone you know needs assistance overcoming suicidal thoughts, we are eager to help. In addition to helping individuals, we offer family therapy services that can help you and your loved ones address ongoing issues that may be contributing to mental health or substance use problems.
A reminder: If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.