The month of September tends to be the signature month that transitions the summer season into fall – kids return to school, people pull out the sweaters and (what’s become cliché) coffee shops roll out pumpkin spice everything. Over the past several years, the month of September has also become the month dedicated to suicide prevention, with September 10th set as World Suicide Prevention Day. This September brings with it a heightened sense of awareness regarding suicide prevention. This has been a year of unimaginable challenges and hardships for society as a whole. With trying to navigate through a pandemic, job losses mounting, businesses closing, social separation, school concerns, and social unrest, it’s been a year like no other. As the year has unfolded, reports have shown how the results of these challenges and hardships have correlated to rising rates in depression, anxiety, and possibly suicide. Considering this impact, it seems more appropriate than ever to learn more about suicide prevention. Despite disheartening stats around the upward trend of mental health struggles and suicide, there are things we all can do if we see someone suffering from suicidal thoughts.
If you are worried about someone you know, look for warning signs. Warning signs can include (but not limited) to:
- Talking about suicide or dying
- Talking about how others would be better off if they were gone
- Talking about hopelessness or no reason to keep living
- Giving away possessions
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- No longer doing activities they loved doing in the past
- Increase in alcohol &/or drug use
- Self-harming or other reckless behavior
- Extreme mood swings
- Lack of sleep/sleeping too much
Often times, once a person recognizes warning signs that someone they know may be hurting, they don’t know how to help. A way to help is to ask. Be direct and ask questions. Ask the individual if they have had recent thoughts of suicide or no desire to live anymore. To clear the air, there is a fallacy that if you ask about suicide, it gives the idea of suicide that may not otherwise have been there. But, it’s simply that – a fallacy. By you asking that direct question, it will not give them a new idea to harm themselves.
And if they say “yes,” thank them for being open with you and let them know you care. Encourage them to contact a mental health professional. If you’re comfortable enough, tell them you’re willing to do it with them. A great resource that is available 24/7 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. It’s confidential and you can talk with a trained professional. If actually talking with someone over the phone is not quite comfortable for the person in need, they can text “HOPELINE” to 741741 and a trained specialist will respond via text to help. Lastly, if you feel someone could be in imminent danger, call 911. Together, we can help prevent suicide.