Suicide is a sensitive and challenging topic that affects millions of people worldwide.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and according to the World Health Organization, over 700,000 people die by suicide every year, which amounts to one person every 40 seconds. In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide. Suicide affects all ages, in 2020, suicide was among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10-64 and the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34.3. I’m not sharing these statistics to scare you, but suicide is a public health problem that we need to understand and address.
Suicide is a serious problem, and it's important to learn about it and get help if you're thinking about it. Most importantly, remember that suicide is preventable. It's usually a sign that someone is in a lot of emotional pain, and it's often connected to mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or addiction. If you see the warning signs in yourself or someone else, it's important to take action. You could make a difference in that person's life.
The following are some of the common warning signs of suicide:
- Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, or like a burden to others
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
- Extreme mood swings
- Reckless behavior
- Giving away prized possessions or saying goodbye
If you notice any of these warning signs in someone, it is crucial to take them seriously and seek help. It is essential to reach out to a mental health professional, a crisis helpline, or emergency services if necessary. In addition, here are some steps you can take to support individuals who are considering suicide:
- Listen without judgment: Let the person know that you are there to listen and that you care about them. It is important to avoid criticizing or judging them for their thoughts or feelings.
- Take their thoughts seriously: Suicidal thoughts should always be taken seriously. Don't try to downplay the person's feelings or make light of their situation. Acknowledge their pain and let them know that it's okay to ask for help.
- Encourage them to seek professional help: Encourage the person to seek professional help from a mental health provider or a crisis helpline. Offer to help them find resources and make an appointment.
- Help them create a safety plan: A safety plan can help the person manage their suicidal thoughts and reduce the risk of self-harm. Encourage them to create a plan that includes strategies for coping with difficult emotions, ways to distract themselves, and a list of emergency contacts.
- Offer ongoing support: Suicidal thoughts and feelings can be overwhelming, so it's important to offer ongoing support to the person. Check-in with them regularly and encourage them to continue seeking professional help.
There are many places you can go for help when you're feeling overwhelmed or having a hard time. Some people talk to friends or family, some people see a therapist, and some people use a crisis hotline. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and there is always someone there to listen and support you. One of those resources - and one that I volunteered for - is the Crisis Text Line. They’re a global not-for-profit organization providing free mental health texting service through confidential crisis intervention via SMS message. The organization's services are available 24 hours a day.
This is an extremely valuable resource for individuals who are experiencing a crisis because it provides immediate and confidential support via text messaging that is accessible, cost-effective, and potentially life-saving.
Here are some of the ways the Crisis Text Line can be valuable:
- Accessibility: It is accessible to anyone with a mobile phone, 24/7, and can be used from anywhere. This means that individuals who may not have access to other resources, such as a phone or computer, can still receive support.
- Confidentiality: It provides a confidential and anonymous way to seek help. This can be especially valuable for individuals who may be hesitant to seek help in person or over the phone.
- Immediate support: It offers immediate support, which can be critical in a crisis situation. This can help individuals to manage their emotions and feelings in real-time, potentially reducing the risk of harm to themselves or others.
- Trained Responders: It is staffed by trained volunteers or professionals who have been trained to handle crisis situations. These responders are equipped to provide emotional support, resources, and referrals to other services as needed.
- Cost-effective: It is often free or low-cost, making it accessible to individuals who may not have the financial means to access other forms of support.
If you find yourself in crisis and need to talk to someone. The Crisis Text Line is here for you. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor.
Suicide is a problem that affects a lot of people. By learning to recognize the warning signs and knowing the risk factors, we can help to prevent it. It's important to raise awareness and encourage people to seek help if they need it. Remember, if someone is in immediate danger, they should seek emergency help by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room.