Suicide Prevention Awareness
Most people personally know or are connected to someone that has committed or attempted suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for a death every 11 minutes.
Chances are that there are family members and people in your social circle who are contemplating it. Not everyone who has suicidal thoughts will attempt to commit suicide. However, anyone with these thoughts is vulnerable and in need of support.
The best way to help those who are dealing with suicidal thoughts is to be an ally. Here’s what you need to know.
Tips and Resources for Being an Ally
As an ally, you can make a difference for yourself and others living with mental illness. Through advocacy, self-care, and peer support, you can help those who need it the most.
Today, there is no shortage of advocacy groups and programs designed to educate and help. Some of the best resources for anyone looking to become an ally include:
As an ally, you play an important role in supporting the mental health community by fighting stigma and creating safe spaces for people to discuss their experiences.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it
The stigma surrounding suicide makes the subject even more difficult to approach. People worry that they may say the wrong thing or make the situation worse.
However, talking to someone about what they’re going through is extremely beneficial. Being a listening ear for someone who is going through a tough time can be life changing. It may also be lifesaving.
When discussing the topic, ask how you can help. Be mindful of your words and listen with empathy. And if you’ve got your own story to share, let people know they aren’t alone in their battle.
Recognizing the warning signs
Suicide rarely has a single cause. In fact, there are many underlying factors that increase the risk of suicide. Some of the most common risk factors include:
· Feelings of hopelessness
· Mental health disorders
· Impulsive tendencies
· History of abuse or trauma
· Previous suicide attempt(s)
· Loss of a job or relationship
If a loved one has talked about wanting to die, is isolating themselves, or talks about being a burden, they may be in immediate danger. It’s best to reach out to a mental health crisis counselor, suicide hotline, or 911.
How to Voice Concerns
Now more than ever, it’s easier for people to support those facing mental health struggles. In the past, mental health topics were often ignored or avoided. Today, there’s less fear and avoidance when talking about suicide.
Are you worried about a friend or loved one? Unsure how to approach the subject? What’s most important is to be genuine and to start the conversation in the right setting, in the right way.
Ask them how they’ve been doing lately. Express that you’ve noticed some worrying signs. Let them know that you’re here to support them and will listen without judgement.
In general, we should all get into the habit of asking people how they’re doing. Even if there’s no reason to think someone is struggling, you never know what a person is dealing with internally.
Suicide can happen to anyone, even those who are always smiling. Be kind to each other and be an ally for those who are struggling.