Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  It’s more important than ever that we be there for each other and take steps to prevent suicide. According to the CDC and NIMH, suicide rates have increased by 35% since 1999. More than 48,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2018 alone.

Thoughts of giving up and suicide can be frightening, but having open and honest conversations about them is an important start. These kinds of thoughts should always be taken seriously. Knowing when you or a loved one are at risk, and how to manage a mental health crisis should one arise, are important steps toward suicide prevention.

Increased Risk Factors:

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 46% of people who die by suicide have a diganosed mental health condition, and 90% have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition.  It’s important to get treatment for any mental health conditions from a licensed professional right away.  In addition to mental health conditions, the following may put a person at additional risk of suicide:

  • A family history of suicide
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Access to firearms
  • Serious or chronic medical illness
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Recent tragedy or loss

Know The Warning Signs: 

Being aware of changes in behavior, in yourself or in your friends and family, can help to identify and even prevent a potential psychiatric emergency.  Some early warning signs of suicide can include:

  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Comments or thoughts about suicide

Support In A Crisis

As with any health crisis, a mental health emergency should be addressed quickly.  If a loved one is experiencing a suicide crisis, it’s important to stay calm and approach the situation with patience:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 911 immediately
  • Separate the person from anything they are thinking of using to hurt themselves, such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills
  • Talk openly and honestly with them about the situation
  • Express support and concern
  • Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice

Suicidal thoughts are a symptom and can be treated so they improve over time. If you or a loved one have experienced suicidal thoughts, seek help right away.  You are not alone, and suicide is not the answer.  As always, we are here to help with kindness and compassion.