National Suicide Prevention Month
As we start to settle in to the fall weather and back to school schedules, it is also time to discuss a more serious topic- suicide prevention. September has been designated as National Suicide Prevention Month, and is designed to draw attention to the warning signs and available help for suicidal individuals. Some of the most common warning signs are: talking about suicide, seeking out lethal means, a preoccupation with death, no hope for the future, self- hatred, self- destructive behavior, and no hope for the future. While some warning signs are easily identified, there are others that are not so easily identified, such as a sudden sense of calm. Individuals who suddenly appear calm or happy after being extremely depressed may have already made the decision to attempt suicide.
What can you do to help? When talking to a suicidal person, remember to be sympathetic and listen; take the person seriously and try to offer hope by reassuring them that help is available. When speaking with someone in crisis, do not argue with them, act shocked, promise confidentiality, blame yourself, or offer ways to fix their problems. If someone tells you that they have suicidal thoughts, try to obtain professional help for them by calling a crisis line for advice or referrals. Be proactive when trying to help suicidal individuals- a simple “call if you need anything” probably will not be enough. Encourage positive lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, getting out in the sun, or an exercise routine. You can also help by making a safety plan and removing potential means of suicide, such as razors, knives, pills, or firearms. If you feel someone is at immediate risk of committing suicide, call 911 and do not leave the person alone under any circumstances. Continuing support is extremely important after the immediate crisis has passed, so be sure to stay in contact and check in on the person frequently.
If you or someone you know is at risk, there is help available.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
National Hopeline Network – Toll-free telephone number offering 24-hour suicide crisis support. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). (National Hopeline Network)
The Trevor Project – Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Includes a 24/7 hotline: 1-866-488-7386.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – Free, confidential 24/7 helpline information service for substance abuse and mental health treatment referral. 1-800-662-HELP (4357). (SAHMSA)