Although there has been a lot of media attention focused on suicide over the past couple of months, September happens to be National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is a very serious public health problem and affects people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly 3,000 people on average commit suicide daily and about one million die by suicide each year. These numbers may seem shocking, and they are, especially when we consider that suicide is preventable if we are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to help those in need.
If you can properly identify the warning signs, you could save a life. Read further to learn more about these warning signs and additional advice about how to best support someone suffering from depression.
Suicide takes an enormous toll on all involved; friends, family classmates and entire communities. There are, however, many warning signs and red flags to look out for when it comes to an individual who may be at risk for taking his/her life. It is also important to keep in mind that the risk can increase if the individual has recently experienced a trauma, loss, painful event or significant and/or life-altering change. Some warning signs may include:
Trying to uncover the underlying reasons for an individual’s suicidal thoughts is complex and challenging. According to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, 90% of people who take their lives have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of death – a disorder that often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Knowing how to talk to someone who you believe is at risk can be very challenging. Here are some helpful tips for what to do and what not to do when reaching out to someone who you believe may need additional support:
|Let them know they are not alone||Be Judgmental|
|Show you are concerned and take them seriously||Tell them to look on the bright side|
|Listen no matter how negative they are||Promise confidentiality|
|Let them know they are important to you||Blame yourself|
Although all of these are important ways to provide necessary support and ensure the individual’s safety, one of the most important things to remember is that more than anything else, a person who is feeling depressed or suicidal needs a safe place to express their fears, anxieties, and just be themselves. Sometimes the best thing to do is just listen. While it can be challenging to control the urge to offer advice or provide your opinion, giving them the opportunity to be heard and listened to can be incredibly healing in and of itself. It’s so important not to forget the power of “just being there”!
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