The month of September is dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention. During September and all year long, we aim to raise awareness and help educate people on how to prevent suicide in their area. Preventing suicide can feel like an impossible task. Especially when suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and West Virginia has the 14th highest suicide rate in the nation. To help protect you and those you love from this tragic health issue, it’s important to understand the warning signs and risk factors of suicide and the ways you can help prevent it.
Download this free mental health assessment to determine if your teen could benefit from a professional’s help.
Provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
There is a common belief that someone who thinks about or attempts suicide has a mental health disorder. However, in 2016, more than half (54%) of people who died by suicide did not have a diagnosed mental health condition. Also, there is rarely one single factor that causes someone to consider suicide. Some of the issues that can contribute to suicide include substance use, trauma, untreated mental illness, physical health, financial stress, legal issues, housing, relationships and more.
Know the Risk Factors for Suicide
The factors below may indicate an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts in youth and adults.
- A prior suicide attempt
- A family history of suicide
- Exposure to traumatic experiences like witnessing violence or experiencing abuse or neglect
- A family history of mental illness, depression, alcohol and/or drug misuse
- Chronic pain and certain medical conditions
Warning Signs of Suicide
These warning signs indicate that someone may need help immediately.
- Killing themselves
- Wanting to die
- Feeling hopeless
- Unexplainable and/or unbearable pain
- Feeling like there’s no point to life
- Drastic changes in behavior, such as struggling with depression but suddenly displaying a surge of happiness or eagerness
- Increased alcohol and/or drug use
- Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Withdrawn from family, friends and/or activities
- Displaying changes in their mood, such as increased anxiousness, anger or other extreme mood changes
What You Can Do
Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide and there are many preventative steps you can take to help a child or teen before they are in crisis. Increasing the connections among family members and others in your circle can play a major role in preventing suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Research also shows that people having thoughts of suicide can experience relief when someone simply reaches out to them and inquires about their feelings. Keep an open mind when talking to others about their feelings and make sure not to promote this stigma.
Here are some examples of how you can reach out and help someone who may be struggling:
- Tell them that they matter. Positive reinforcement is important.
- Help them engage positive supports in their life (such as school, church, sports or volunteering)
- Create opportunities for them to talk about their emotions. Actively listen without judgement.
- Teach them healthy habits for caring for their body and brain.
- Work with them on stress tolerance and coping skills.
- Encourage counseling; you don’t have to be in crisis to seek help.
Be encouraging when urging someone to seek help, whether through a mental health professional, a visit to the emergency room or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).