You may think suicide will never affect your life. But suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with one suicide occurring on average every 14 minutes. With those odds, chances are very high that it will touch your life sometime, somehow.
That’s why the American Association of Suicidology sponsors National Suicide Prevention Week every September. This week also encompasses the International Association for Suicide Prevention’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
In honor of their efforts, here are the warning signs that someone you know or love is at acute risk of attempting suicide:
- Threatening to, or talking about wanting to, hurt or kill him or herself
- Looking for ways to kill him/herself such as getting access to firearms, pills, or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when this is out of the ordinary
Additional warning signs include:
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawal from friends, family and society
- Rage, uncontrolled anger or revenge-seeking
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Dramatic mood changes
The person may also express feelings of:
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Being trapped, like there’s no way out
- Hopelessness – no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
If you see or hear these signs, what should you do?
If the threat is imminent, dial 9-1-1 or use the crisis services information which is found on our emergency page. For further assistance, you can call a Horizon mental health professional at 716.831.1800 or use our FREE online consultation program .
You can also:
- Be available. Show interest and support.
- Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask your friend or loved one if he/she is thinking about suicide.
- Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide. This helps to ensure there is no miscommunication or misunderstanding about the person’s intent.
- Be willing to listen. Allow the person to express his or her feelings—and show that you accept those feelings. Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad.
- Don’t dare him/her to do it.
- Don’t ask ‘why’. This encourages defensiveness.
- Offer empathy, not sympathy. Try to place yourself in the other person’s shoes to feel what they feel, instead of just telling them you feel bad for them.
- Don’t act shocked, or you could create a distance.
- Don’t allow yourself to be sworn to secrecy. If the other person won’t seek support, you should do it for him or her.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available, but don’t offer glib reassurance (everything’s going to be okay); it only proves you don’t understand.
At Horizon Health Services, we believe in quality of life for every individual. If you ever have questions about your own mental health or that of someone else, you can contact us any time at 716.831.1800.
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