Suicide: Break the Silence
Suicide something that can affect whole communities and change lives forever. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America, with 47,173 Americans dying by suicide in 2017 alone. For more information, click here.
Break the Silence
Suicide is one of those taboo topics that everyone knows about, yet everyone is reluctant to talk about. This is dangerous. Failing to talk about suicide, its warning signs, and what to do to get help can cost countless lives.
Risk Factors for Suicide
There are numerous risk factors that increase a person’s chances of dying by suicide.
These risk factors include:
Being older (middle age and beyond)
Having attempted suicide in the past
Alcohol use and abuse
Altered mental states (such as psychosis)
Lack of social support
Having an organized plan
Not being married
Having a serious, chronic illness
Warning Signs of Suicide
Most people express warning signs prior to attempting suicide.
While they vary from person to person, here are some of the primary warning signs:
Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
Talking about feeling hopeless, purposeless, or trapped
Talking about being a burden to others
Changes in sleep and mood
Social withdrawal or isolation
Sudden elevation in mood**
Giving away possessions**
** These two symptoms tend to occur right after someone decides they are going to die by suicide. While many may see a boost in mood as positive, it must be addressed if there have been other signs and symptoms present.
What to Do
If you know someone who is showing warning signs of suicide, don’t wait.
Have the conversation
This can be a scary conversation to have, but it can end up saving someone’s life. Ask the person the question straight on, “Are you contemplating death by suicide?” They are likely to be honest with you, and will likely be thankful for you asking either way. A common myth is that asking someone about suicide will put the thought in their head. This is not true. Asking about suicide does not increase suicidality.
Reach out for help
If someone is at imminent risk for suicide, call 911 immediately to get the person support. If the person expresses suicidal thoughts, desires, or a plan, connect them to a trained professional. Ideally, refer the person to a therapist who has experience working with people experiencing suicidal thoughts. However, also provide the person with resources they can access at all times.
If you need help
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, reach out to someone. Whether it be a close friend or loved one, a therapist, or a hotline, talk to someone about what is going on and make sure you are getting the support you need. This can be incredibly scary to go through, but you are not alone. Reach out for support and keep holding on.