By Kayt Sukel
When I was 16 years old, a good friend died by suicide.
While I knew he was unhappy, I didn’t realize he was suicidal. And in the years since he took his own life, I’ve wondered, along with his friends and family, what I missed. What more I could have done to prevent this tragic outcome. Even now, decades later, it still haunts me.
Unfortunately, my story is not unique. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than 42,000 Americans die by suicide each year. It is the tenth leading cause of death for adults, and the third leading cause of death for young Americans aged 15-24 years. Men are 3.5 times more likely to succumb to suicide than women. These individuals often suffer from depression—or, sometimes, bipolar disorder or other neuropsychiatric conditions. And they leave many loved ones behind. Friends and family who wish they could have done something, anything, to make a difference.
But it doesn’t have to happen to you or those that you love. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and on Sept. 10, we observe World Suicide Prevention Day to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect people who need help with treatment.
What to watch for: Warning signs of suicide
According to Mental Health America, eight out of ten people who are contemplating suicide do communicate their intentions in a variety of different ways. Such communications may include verbal comments like, “The world would be better off without me,” or even more direct talk about potential suicidal intentions. Individuals may make statements about leaving or not being around in the future. You may see consistent depressive episodes with expressions of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest and joy in things that your loved one once found enjoyable. Furthermore, those who are considering suicide often give away prized personal possessions to friends and family. And they may also engage in impulsive, risk-taking behavior—acting as if the future holds no concern to them.
While none of these behaviors mean that someone is definitely suicidal, they do offer cause for concern. You know your friends and family best. If your gut tells you something is awry, communicate that. You can ask direct questions, but save any shock or judgment. Take the time to listen. Really listen. And if it appears that your loved one is seriously contemplating suicide, make sure they are not left alone and strongly encourage them to seek help immediately. If you think a plan is imminent, you can always go directly to the emergency room or call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance.
A message of hope
This September, in honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, know that you do not have to suffer alone. Your loved ones don’t have to suffer alone. There are alternatives to suicide—and help is available and waiting.
If you or someone you care about is considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all callers. You can reach the lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also find referrals and other support resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
The information on this website is provided as a general information resource only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is provided “as is”. Assurex Health makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, regarding the information on this website.