Suicide is a preventable health problem. Each year, the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) uses the month of September to ramp up awareness and prevention efforts. World Suicide Prevention Day is always on September 10th each year.
Death by suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 10.3% of Americans have thought about suicide and 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide.
We can all help prevent suicide. Every year, the Lifeline and other mental health organizations and individuals across the U.S. and around the world raise awareness of suicide prevention during September, National Suicide Prevention Month.
So, what can you do?
Suicide statistics are staggering, and perhaps if more people were aware of the prominence, it would help with efforts for prevention. We urge you to educate yourself of the risks and signs of suicide.
Risk Factors of Suicide
- Mental Illness
- Substance Abuse or Addiction
- Chronic or Terminal Illness
- Exposed to another suicide
- History of suicide attempts, family history of suicide
Signs of Suicidal Behavior
- Talking about suicide
- Strong feelings of sadness, guilt, shame, hopelessness
- Saying goodbye
- Giving things away
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns
These are just some signs of suicidal ideation or behavior. There are other ways to recognize suicidal behavior that may not be as obvious, like accessing lethal means, emotional distance, and more.
One sign that may come as a surprise is a change in mood. Someone experiencing suicidal ideation may suddenly appear happy, and this can be viewed as an improvement, but could actually be a sign of a plan for suicide.
Learn more about risk factors and warning signs at Save.org
We all have an obligation to prevent suicide. One way to make a difference is to reach out. You don’t need to be a therapist or doctor to help someone with suicidal ideation or behavior. It’s important to remember, simply reaching out and showing you care can make a huge difference.
Reach out to your loved ones even if they appear strong and happy. It isn’t always apparent that something serious is going on.
#BeThe1To is an organization sharing how you can do your part in preventing suicide.
They share their recommendations for 5 ways to help:
- Ask Come out and ask plainly if the person is thinking about suicide.
- Be There Be there over the phone, facetime, in person, or however works best. Just, be there.
- Keep Them Safe If the person discloses suicidal ideation or behavior when asked, it is important to immediately take action and share with anyone in the home or a professional.
- Help Them Connect Assist in any necessary connection to family, therapist, doctor, or other professional help.
- Follow Up Even after connecting them with the necessary help, follow up and ask how they’re doing.
A great way to be a part of the prevention is through raising awareness. Once you’ve educated yourself and done what you need to in terms of checking on your family and friends, you can teach others how to do the same.
There are quite a few organizations who lead the way with suicide prevention who you can follow on social media and read up on their charitable events and goals:
You have the potential to make a difference in the heartbreaking reality of suicide. Take action during this month and beyond to help prevent death by suicide. Check out the organizations dedicating their time and efforts to this important cause, and share with us how you’re getting involved!