Raising Awareness about Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention Week takes place during September 7–13, so this is an opportune time to learn more about this tragic behavior and what can be done to help those considering it.
Although high-profile suicide stories may shock and sadden the world, the likelihood remains that most people come into contact with individuals on a daily basis who have considered or are considering suicide. By understanding the causes and warning signs of suicide, we can become better empowered to help ourselves and others.
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
People seeking mental health treatment often do so because they realize they are in danger of harming themselves. Whether suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or another illness, the burden of fighting internal and external battles sometimes becomes too overwhelming. When this happens, death may seem like the only escape.
A recent study in Psychology Today evaluated the suicide notes of “attempters,” those who tried but did not succeed in killing themselves and “completers,” who died as a result of their actions. Common mindsets among these individuals included:
- Being a burden.Believing their loved ones – or the world at large – would be better off without them was a strong indicator of a suicide completer.
- Experiencing suffering.When physical or emotional pain become too much to bear, some individuals seek death for permanent relief.
- Hopelessness.When an illness or situation seems incurable or unfixable, a suicidal person may feel there is no point to in trying to overcome it.
With prompt and attentive mental illness treatment, those with suicidal ideation can overcome these erroneous thoughts. However, it often takes the intervention of a caring individual to help steer them out of danger.
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“Red Flags” for Suicidal Behavior
While many people considering suicide will not come out and admit their feelings, they are likely to give one or more unintentional “hints” of the danger in which they find themselves. Warning signs of a suicidal individual include:
- Becoming isolated from friends, family members, or other loved ones
- Expressing hopelessness or helplessness about their current situation
- Purchasing or stockpiling lethal items, such as weapons or medications
- Giving away valuable personal items or otherwise “wrapping up” personal affairs
- Discussing specific ways of committing suicide
- Demonstrating lost interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Having difficulty falling or staying asleep
How to Help Potentially Suicidal Loved Ones
If someone you know and care about is showing one or more signs they may be considering suicide, they likely need mental health treatment as soon as possible to reverse these thoughts. Ways to help a loved one include:
- Expressing your concern.Knowing you care can help draw out their intentions and help them reconsider.
- Asking them outright.Posing the question “Are you considering suicide?” may seem frightening, but it will not pose more of a danger to them than they are already facing.
- Help them get treatment.Whether you work with them in locating a doctor or facility – or by take them to the emergency room – let them know you won’t rest until they get the help they need. They may also call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.