Be the Difference Between Life and Death
Suicide awareness and prevention is a critical topic that everyone needs to be aware of. Each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death over all in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds. For every suicide committed there are 25 suicide attempts.
In the United States as a whole suicide rates have increased to the highest level in almost 30 years. In fact a recent study has shown that the admissions to children’s hospitals of patients ranging in age from 5 to 17 for having suicidal thoughts or actions has more than doubled in the last 9 years.
The risk factors associated with suicide include both environmental factors and mental illness. While depression is most commonly associated with suicide there are many mental illnesses that may lead to suicide or suicide attempts .
They include but are not limited to:
– Anxiety disorders
– Bipolar disorder
– Multiple personality disorder
– Psychotic disorders
– Borderline or Antisocial disorder
– Substance abuse addiction
Environmental factors also play an important role in creating suicidal tendencies. An individual experiencing life in a high stress situation in addition to mental health conditions is more likely to feel suicidal.
Environmental factors may include:
– Physical, mental, and emotional abuse
– High stress careers
– Financial struggles
– Relationship problems with friends and loved ones
– Instable home environment
– Access to weapons such as knife and gun collections
Unfortunately the stigma of mental illness leaves many Americans undiagnosed and untreated. Suicide may be a result of a combination of one or many of these risk factors. If someone you know begins to say, act, or display emotions listed below they may be considering suicide.
– They are a burden to others
– They are in pain (with no physical symptoms)
– They want to kill themselves
– They have no reason or will to live
– Act dangerously or recklessly as if they no longer care
– Isolate themselves from friends and family
– Withdraw from daily life and activities
– Call or visit people to say goodbye
– Give away sentimental items they’d otherwise not part with
– Sleep too much or sleep too little
Their mood is:
– They lack interest in activities or hobbies they once loved
Every suicidal individual has a unique situation however these feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are extremely common indicators of suicidal inclinations. It is imperative to take these indications very seriously. While many people will automatically try to “cheer up” a person who is feeling down, for a person whom is suicidal that approach does not work. They are in a dark place where they cannot comprehend there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The first thing you should do is to start a conversation and listen. You may start by saying “Hey _____, you seem like you’ve been down lately and it’s scaring me. Can we talk?”. If they aren’t really responding be direct, say “You know ____ there are a lot of people who (insert warning signs) might have thoughts of hurting themselves, are you having thoughts like that?”. They may deny they have thoughts about suicide when in reality they do. Always provide the National Suicide Prevention hotline number and let them know it’s anonymous, 24/7, 365 days a year support for free. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
Regardless of whether they indicate they are suicidal or not, it is always important to eliminate access to weapons of suicide. Including guns, knives, poisons, medications (other than the prescribed dosage they may require), rope, etc. If you’ve assessed the suicidal individual is a genuine danger to themselves or others call 911 and inform them of the situation at hand. It is better to have a loved one taken in for treatment than it is to lose them forever.
Always remember to be aware, be supportive, and be strong. Have the courage to keep the conversation about suicide going. By increasing suicide awareness and prevention we may just save a life. If you need someone to listen call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, they are there to help.
Jennie Khonsari – 214-770-6872 – Texas CPR Training – www.texascpr.com