Suicide Prevention Month
September is Suicide Prevention Month. Every year, in the United States alone, 44,000 people take their own lives. The majority of this number are caucasian males. Suicide doesn’t just affect the victim, it also affects everyone involved in their life. In the past, taking your own life was considered a taboo topic of conversation due to familial feelings of grief and shame. However, in recent years, this instrumental month has strived to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic and its resulting tragic end to valuable lives.
Suicide Prevention Month aims to support people who have been affected by suicide, raise awareness of the severity of the situation, and help people with suicidal ideation get the appropriate treatment services they need. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of suicidal ideation, then contact HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, as we can provide you with the information and support you need.
Warning Signs of Suicidal Behavior
Suicide prevention lays heavily on knowing the warning signs of suicidal behavior. Depression is the most common mental illness associated with suicide, but life circumstances, stressors, and health factors can often combine to cause feelings of despair. Having an awareness of the following warning signs may help reduce the risks:
- Severe low mood or sadness – this can look like mood swings, anger, or intense sadness.
- Hopelessness – feeling an overwhelming sense of despair about the future and an expectation that nothing will improve.
- Withdrawing from social activities – a loss of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities or avoiding friends and family may also be a symptom of suicidal ideation.
- Difficulties sleeping.
- Calmness after a depressive/moody period – sudden calmness after a turbulent period may indicate that someone has decided to end their life.
- Life crisis or trauma – circumstances such as the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, and the end of a relationship may cause suicidal ideation.
- Change in attitude or appearance – someone who is contemplating suicide may stop caring about how they look, or they may present differently regarding how they speak or move.
- Tying up loose ends/making preparations – when someone has decided to end their life, they often attempt to put it in order regarding their personal affairs. This might look like making a will, giving away their belongings, visiting loved ones, or writing a note. Some people may also buy provisions such as a gun or alternative measures.
- Threatening suicide – someone who is considering suicide may give a warning sign. This might not be an obvious threat, but instead, a seemingly off-hand comment such as “everyone would probably be better off if I wasn’t here.” However, not everyone who is contemplating suicide will verbally threaten to do so.
- Previous suicide attempts.
How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal
Helping someone with suicidal thoughts is entirely possible if you pay careful attention to the warning signs and follow the appropriate suicide prevention steps:
- If you are concerned about someone’s immediate safety, then make sure to call 911. There are also other emergency help lines you can utilize if the threat is not imminent.
- Learn the warning signs – understanding the risk factors can be helpful in understanding how to offer them support.
- Express support – hold honest and open conversations with the person that you are concerned about. Try to be open-minded and non-judgemental with them and instead practice kindness.
- Help them make a support network – helping someone with suicidal ideation can be a lot for one person to handle. Help the person make a list of trusted friends and family from whom they would feel comfortable allowing support.
- Help in practical ways – you can offer to help someone in simple ways, such as by getting them a glass of water when they’re distressed, calling their General Practitioner, asking if they would like you to call their family or friends, or whether they would like company for a while.
- Make a safety plan with them – a safety plan is a helpful tool for supporting the person you’re concerned about and helping them manage their own suicidal thoughts and concerns. Here is a helpful template for a safety plan.
If you are concerned about your or someone you care about’s safety, then help and support is available at all times. You do not have to struggle alone. The following are some of the leading suicide prevention hotlines available within the USA:
- Phone 911 for immediate emergency services.
- Phone 211 for emergency referrals to social and community services when you are not dealing with an immediate, life-threatening incident.
- Samaritans – phone 116 123 – text SHOUT to 85258
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – phone 1-800-273-8255
For the hearing and speech impaired – phone 1-800-799-4889
- The Veterans Crisis Line – phone 1-800-273-8255
- IMAlive Crisis Chatline – www.imalive.org
- Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741-741
- The Trevor Project (for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and youths that are questioning their sexuality) – phone 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678
If you wish to know more about how to help someone with suicidal thoughts or the other mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at 518-218-1188.
With our new online therapy capabilities, HPA/LiveWell can now offer mental health services to anyone within not only the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley region – Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Newburgh, White Plains, Kingston, and surrounding New York cities, but we can offer mental health services and eating disorder treatment to anyone throughout New York state.