As we come to observe National Suicide Prevention Month, it is important to understand the severity of this cause through the spread of both information and understanding. What does this mean to you and those around you? It means educating yourself and others, checking in on loved ones and taking time to commemorate and reflect within oneself. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports on average 132 suicides per day, making this the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. When it comes to demographic, suicide does not discriminate citing varying characteristics such as race, gender, age, and ethnicity. As of 2018, the CDC reports suicide to be higher amongst older adults ranging from ages 45-64 years. As adolescents are showing lower rates, data reports show attempts occurring from 15-24 years of age. Apart from age range and demographic, stereotypes and stigmas still arise when it comes to the topic of suicide. This occurring especially in men as rates show attempts three times higher than in women. Now that we are undergoing times of drastic change and uproar within our current communities, it is important now more than ever to learn ways of coping during moments of unrest whilst keeping in mind one’s overall emotional well being. Throughout the month of September keep in mind ways to participate within those close to you, social groups and communities. From working with organizations to lending a helping hand, listening to those seeking help, or even your own inner voice. Take the time to make a change; you too can help the cause.
Ways to Observe Suicide Prevention
- Spread the Word
Continue to educate yourself and others in your day-to-day. This cause is all about the spread of information and awareness. Reach out to your loved ones, your friends, those close to you. Be the one to start the conversation, erase the stigma of staying silent in times of distress.
Look for local crisis centers and organizations that could use a helping hand. Organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provide free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Use Your Resources
In times when social media is more alive than ever, take the time to use your platform to help the cause. Whether it is by making videos, posting information and using hashtags, or just using it as a way to check-in on others, this is a great way to spread the message.
How to Help Those in Need
- Ask Questions
Confrontation can be difficult, but it could also save a life. Ask someone directly if they are thinking about committing suicide. Create normalcy around the topic by opening the door to communication.
- Be an Active Listener
People who are thinking of suicide often experience instances of feeling isolated and alone. Be sure to listen to what they have to say and reassure them that you care and are here to help.
- Help Them Seek Professional Assistance
It is important to reach out to not only friends for a shoulder to lean on but to also seek professional help. Those trained in this field such as counselors, therapists, psychologists, or social workers.
Why This Cause is Important
This cause to spread awareness is crucial not just within our communities and organizations, but also the conversation needs to exist and be prevalent within schools, in the workplace, and in politics. We need to make a consistent effort to discuss the topic of suicide, possible warning signs, how to prevent it, where to access resources educational or other and where to seek help. The over-indulged stigma of not speaking on suicide has gone on for far too long. An open platform needs to be created for those to be able to speak up without fear or judgment. Help de-stigmatize the image portrayed in terms of mental illness and promote an environment of open communication and acknowledgement. This is of utmost importance to healing and facilitating the possibility of creating change.
Scared to Seek Therapy?
There’s another huge stigma that exists with admitting to having suicidal thoughts in therapy, as fears arise of having your freedoms stripped from you. Fear of losing a certain level of independence, of someone taking control over your livelihood, of being taken away and locked-up or even hospitalized. People worry that with the mention of suicidal thoughts comes an immediate state of utter emergency on the part of the therapist. Seth J. Gillihan, Ph. D. states that clinicians see it as a positive sign when patients want to discuss suicidal thoughts as it is in fact more harmful and concerning when a person says nothing at all, leaving them at a much higher risk. While it varies among health professionals, the common approach when discussing suicide includes thoughts of wanting to die otherwise known as “passive suicidal ideation,” a plan or desire, steps a person has taken to prepare for suicide, and an access to the means to do so. The level of risk will then determine the course of action taken on behalf of the professional. When the clinician observes no sign of immediate emergency, they will then develop a safety plan with the patient as a way to manage suicidal thoughts or urges.
“About.” Lifeline, suicidepreventionlifeline.org/about/.
“Suicide Statistics.” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 14 May 2020, afsp.org/suicide-statistics.
Gillihan, Seth J. “What Happens When You Mention Suicide in Therapy?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 16 Sept. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201809/what-happens-when-you-mention-suicide-in-therapy.