Suicide. It’s not a fun or pretty topic. It’s taboo, and downright terrifying to talk about, or hear a friend or loved one think about suicide. Or possibly you’ve entertained those thoughts. As uncomfortably, scary, and awkward as it feels, it’s IMPERATIVE for suicide to be discussed no matter your age, ethnicity, gender, social class, or religion.
KNOW THE STATS
Nearly 40,000 commit suicide each year in the United States alone. At least 90% of all people who die by suicide were suffering from a mental illness at the time, most often depression.
Suicide is 100% preventable, but most people don’t get the help they truly need.
- The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression. (SAVE)
- 80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully. (SAVE)
- Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring. (SAVE)
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 16th). (CDC)
- It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS)
- An average of one person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes. (CDC, AAS)
- Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.
- Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS
Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Be Aware of Feelings
Many people at some time in their lives think about suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On the other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control.
These are some of the feelings and thoughts they experience:
- Can’t stop the pain
- Can’t think clearly
- Can’t make decisions
- Can’t see any way out
- Can’t sleep, eat or work
- Can’t get out of depression
- Can’t make the sadness go away
- Can’t see a future without pain
- Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
- Can’t get someone’s attention
- Can’t seem to get control
If you experience these feelings, please get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area code. The local crisis center may have resources such as counseling or in-patient treatment centers for your friend or family member. Most importantly, please encourage them to call the Lifeline.
To find a therapist near you, go here.
([Some of] this content was developed by the American Association of Suicidology.)