211 Helping To Save Lives and Raise Awareness about Suicide Prevention
Suicide is recognized as a serious public-health problem that is of national and global concern and annually, the month of September spotlights suicide awareness and prevention efforts.
September marks the start of National Suicide Prevention Week with September 10th spotlighting World Suicide Prevention Day. This campaign was spearheaded by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), and is a collaborative effort by many agencies nationwide to help increase awareness about suicide prevention.
For the staff at 211 HelpLine suicide prevention is an everyday occurrence with an average of 6 suicidal individuals or those concerned family or friends calling daily.
Individuals who contemplate suicide do not see how their decision will impact others – they will leave on average 7 people as survivors, struggling in the aftermath. As the stigma of reaching out for mental health help decreases through awareness efforts, we will begin to make real strides in prevention efforts.
If you want to help- start community conversations about mental health. Check out your local mental health coalitions. Ask 211 about local Mental Health First Aid class offerings. Help you and your fellow community members build resiliency. Learn about trauma informed care.
CDC Risk Factors & Protective Factors
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) reports that:
- For the U.S. population as a whole, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.
- On average, one suicide occurs every 11.7 minutes in the United States.
- Nationally we lose approximately 123 individuals to suicide a day.
- For teens and young adults, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death (behind accidents- number one, and with homicides being the third leading cause of death)
If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, dial 2-1-1.
Common Warning Signs and ways to help someone who might be contemplating suicide:
- Talking about suicide – for example, making statements such as “I'm going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead,” or “I wish I hadn't been born.”
- Obtaining the means to commit suicide, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills.
- Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone.
- Exhibiting mood swings, such as being exuberant one day and depressed the next.
- Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence.
- Expressing feelings of being trapped or hopeless.
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
- Changing normal routines, including eating or sleeping patterns.
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, such as using drugs or driving recklessly.
- Giving away belongings or taking steps to get one’s affairs in order.
- Saying goodbye to people in a manner that suggests they won’t be seen again.
- Displaying personality changes or extreme anxiety, particularly when exhibiting some of the warning signs listed above.
What you can do:
If you suspect that a friend or loved one is contemplating suicide, the following actions are recommended:
- Encourage the person to seek treatment. Ideally, the individual should consult a doctor or mental-health provider. But, if he or she is unwilling to do so, suggest reaching out to a support group, crisis center or faith community. Locally dial 2-1-1 or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Help the person get assistance. For example, you can research treatment options, make phone calls, review health insurance benefit information or take the person to an appointment.
- Facilitate open communication. Be supportive and understanding. Also, listen attentively and avoid interrupting.
- Be respectful of the person’s feelings. Even though someone who’s suicidal isn’t thinking logically, the emotions are real. Not acknowledging how the person feels can curtail communication.
- Don’t be patronizing or judgmental. Instead of contending that “things could be worse” or “you have so much to live for,” ask questions such as, “What would make you feel better?” or “How can I help?”
- Never promise to keep someone’s suicidal feelings a secret. The reason is simple. If you think that the person’s life is in danger, you’ll have to get help.
- Offer reassurance. Emphasize that, with appropriate treatment, he or she will feel better about life.
- Encourage the person to avoid alcohol and drugs. Using drugs or alcohol can lead to reckless behavior and increase depression.
If you think that someone is in danger of committing suicide or has actually made a suicide attempt:
- Trust your instincts even though you may worry that you’re overreacting-when someone’s life is potentially at stake, that’s a risk worth taking.
- Don’t leave the person alone.
- Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
- Call 911.
- If these options above aren’t possible, dial 2-1-1 locally or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
For more information about National Suicide Prevention Week, visit http://www.suicidology.org/resources/nspw.
Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing.
Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved. There are services available in our community for the assessment and treatment of suicidal behaviors and their underlying causes.
Please join 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast in supporting suicide prevention. Learn about the warning signs. Help a suicidal person seek help. Together, we can reduce the number of suicides in our community.
Call 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast 24-hours a day for free, crisis counseling and suicide prevention assistance.
Reference: American Association of Suicidology, Public Service Announcement.