The tragic deaths of fashion icon, Kate Spade and celebrity chef and host of “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain placed suicide and mental illness back into the spotlight. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and each year, about 44,965 people commit suicide. The most common method used in a suicide is a firearm, and firearms were used in 51 percent of suicides in 2016. Although this is a growing issue in the nation, there steps everyone can take to prevent suicide.
1. Destroy the Stigma
Suicide has a trapping effect that makes people feel alone. Because in many communities, mental illness is seen as something in someone’s head, people are afraid of what others will think of them if they open up about their struggles. No one wants to hear that their feelings are invalid.
Suicide impacts every gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, income and nationality, so anyone from the happiest person to the ones who appear to have it together can suffer from suicidal thoughts. One way to prevent suicide is to talk about it and create an open line of communication for those who may need help.
Removing the stigma from mental illness can truly save lives because then people will feel more like comfortable coming to you about what they’re battling with internally. They will no longer feel trapped or silenced.
2. Be Aware of the Warning Signs
Warning signs let you know when someone is in trouble, and when you should step in. Knowing common warming signs allows you the chance to get a friend the help they need quicker. So what exactly are common warning signs to look out for?
Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that one important sign is trouble sleeping. “People who are suicidal are in an anxious over-activated state in which they are anxious and agitated, struggling with tolerating or regulating unbearable psychological pain,” Dr. Firestone writes in Psychology Today. “They are desperate for a solution. This can make it hard for them to sleep, which, in turn, exacerbates the difficulty they are experiencing trying to calm these feelings down.”
Other crucial signs to keep an eye out for include a sense of hopelessness, isolating themselves away from family and friends, perceived burdensomeness, increase use of drugs or alcohol, making preparations and self-hating thoughts. You can go to the American Association of Suicidology to learn more about warning signs to keep an eye out for.
3. Know How to Reach Out
Learning how to reach out and talk to a loved one is essential if you want to prevent suicide. When you go to talk to them, give them your full attention and truly listen to what they have to say. The individual will then see you as an ally and won’t feel alone. Don’t ask too many closed-ended questions instead ask specific questions such as if they’re feeling suicidal, and what circumstances led up to that thought. Understanding their struggle makes it easier for you to argue for the side of them that wants to live and come up helpful solutions.
4. Know the Resources
There are so many resources out there designed to help those who are feeling suicidal, so it is important to keep some in mind. The first one is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available 24/7, and they also have an online chat feature on their website.
You can also text “GO” to 741741 to access the 24/7 Crisis Text Line where you can message trained crisis counselors. There are also countless apps available to people when they’re in trouble such as Suicide Crisis Support, My3 Safety Plan App and Virtual Box.
Everyone’s life is important, and suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I urge you to use the resources mentioned above if you feel suicidal or reach out to a friend or relative. I also plead you to be kind to the people around you and support one another because you never know what someone is battling.