Suicide. A single word that makes most people cringe. So much that they can’t even say the word in the moments it matters the most. Simply asking someone if they have been thinking about suicide is difficult for many, but a lifeline for those suffering in silence. Suicide is preventable. As a society, suicide has been stigmatized to the point that the word sounds dirty. The shame and dishonor some cultures have attributed to it also adds to the stigmatization. We can begin to educate ourselves by becoming comfortable to talk about suicide. Research shows that asking someone directing if they have been contemplating suicide will not give them the idea but rather bridge a connection with that person.
"Have you been thinking about suicide?" This simple phrase can be a lifeline. September is suicide awareness month and many don’t know how prevalent this issue is in our country. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Adolescents and young adults have been increasingly attempting suicide at alarming rates and females are twice as likely to attempt suicide. A population that is often forgotten about are older adults. Their methods of suicide are more subtle and sometimes difficult to detect, but they too attempt and complete suicide. (For most statistics visit AFSP.com) .To get to the point of attempting suicide isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight. The thought of suicide takes time to progress into the act of attempting or completing. If we pay attention and intervene early, suicide can be prevented and many lives can be saved.
My hope is that with this blog you may begin to notice how your friend, sister, brother, aunt, mother, uncle, co-worker, etc. may be suffering in silence. Here are some alarming signs that you should pay attention to:
Giving away their possessions
Withdrawing or isolating
Feeling hopeless and trapped
Significant loss in life: job loss, family member, friend, etc.
Extreme mood swings
Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
Increased rage or anxiety
Looking for ways to kill themselves and access to the means
Feeling like a burden to others
If you want to become educated on how to speak to someone about suicide there are trainings provided by the Living Works (SafeTalk & LivingWorks Start).
If you are a clinician and would like to receive manualized evidence-based training for suicide intervention provided by Living Works (ASIST and Suicide to Hope Growth & Recovery).
To support suicide research, intervention, and prevention join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's annual walk “Out of the Darkness” to help raise awareness through prevention and awareness trainings.
***If you need immediate assistance, please contact 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room for immediate medical assistance. ***