National Suicide Prevention Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Month
We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.
It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.
Did you know...
Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background.
In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.
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. Comments or thoughts about suicide — also known as suicidal ideation — can begin small like, “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nothing matters.” But over time, they can become more explicit and dangerous.
In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.
It can be frightening if someone you love talks about suicidal thoughts. It can be even more frightening if you find yourself thinking about dying or giving up on life. Not taking these kinds of thoughts seriously can have devastating outcomes, as suicide is a permanent solution to (often) temporary problems.
- 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
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.
What can you do to help a friend?
Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. Suicide rarely happens without warning. As a peer, you may be in the best position to recognize when a friend might need help and help them get it. You may see signs in person, hear about them secondhand, or see them online in social media. Never ignore these signs. While suicide is typically associated with the pain of mental illness (in particular depression and associated feelings of helplessness and hopelessness), there are sometimes specific situations that trigger suicidal actions such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, failing in school, being bullied, or experiencing abuse, loss or other trauma. It is important to learn these warning signs and what to do if you see any them in yourself or a friend. Suicide is preventable. By listening, talking, and acting you could save a life. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:
Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide (e.g., "Are you thinking of suicide?").
Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
Do not judge.
Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.
Remove means for self-harm.
Get help: No one should ever agree to keep a youth's suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor.