As Thoughts of Suicide Spike, Here’s How You Can Help
September’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month initiative was created with the intent of sharing resources and promoting knowledge of the issue of suicide worldwide. Even at the best of times, we often see patients struggling with suicidal thoughts due to chronic illnesses, the loss of a family member or underlying mental illnesses. With the increased stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other serious issues impacting our lives, mental health issues are becoming more prevalent.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people from 10 to 34 years of age, and the tenth leading cause of death overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Someone commits suicide every 12.8 minutes and an attempted suicide happens every 31 seconds. Each suicide is said to immediately impact at least six other individuals, meaning that suicide has touched most of our lives in one way or another.
CDC researchers surveyed over 5,400 U.S. adults to see if the current crisis has impacted our collective mental health. Over 40 percent shared they had a mental or behavioral health condition related to COVID-19. Over 10 percent of all surveyed said they had considered suicide at some time during the previous month.
So, how can you help?
1. Learn to identify risks and warning signs.
Learning to identify risks of depression and warning signs of suicidal behavior may help prevent an attempt. Certain psychological conditions are more likely to lead to dangerous behaviors and may escalate to suicide attempts if untreated. After age 15, depression is twice as common in females than in males, and as many of 70 percent of children with depression will have a relapse of the condition by adulthood. In particular, depressive episodes may be preceded by stressful life events, family discord, or the death of a loved one.
2. Be prepared in case of a crisis.
In the event of an emergency, knowing what to do is the best way you can help yourself or a loved one who is hurting. If you or someone you know has actively harmed themselves or shares suicidal thoughts with you, call 911 immediately. If your feelings are strong, but you feel safe from acting on them, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the NAMI Helpline to speak with a crisis counselor. There is no shame in asking for help, or in having feelings that are overwhelming. Professionals are trained to help you or your loved ones deal with those emotions. Getting help is the best thing you can do.
3. Get involved with an organization to raise awareness.
Helping raise suicide prevention awareness is a great use of your time and can help make an impact on those who may need your support. For example, the Central Florida chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts fundraisers, like the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walks for suicide awareness, and funds raised go towards suicide research, education and advocacy for those affected by suicide.
September’s initiative should not stop on the last day of the calendar month. Just one person can have a big impact. I encourage everyone to learn more about this cause and get involved.
If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital Behavioral Therapy
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
NAMI HelpLine 800-950-NAMI (6264)