By Noreen Syed
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Communities are coming together to share their stories and resources to raise awareness about suicide to help prevent individuals from taking their life. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 deaths in 2020. Some groups or ages may have higher rates of suicide. In 2020, Non-Hispanic American Indian/ Alaska Native had the highest suicide rate. Suicidal rates among males are four times higher than females. When looking at those serving the country, veterans were 50% higher than non-serving individuals to commit suicide. Adolescents had accounted for the larger share of suicides in many states during 2020. When breaking down this group, 25.5% of adults ages 18-24 considered suicide, 18.8% of high school students considered suicide, 8.9% of high school students attempted suicide, 10.3% college students considered suicide, and the suicide rates from ages 10-12 had doubled. Suicide has become a public health concern and by coming together to learn and help reduce stigma surrounds mental health and suicide, we can become better equipped to offer hope and help to others.
What You Should Know About Suicide?
Suicide is death caused by self-directed injurious behaviors with intent to die as a result of the behavior.
Suicide attempt is a non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt might result in injury.
Suicidal ideation is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. There is passive suicidal ideation when an individual wishes they were dead or they could die, but do not have plans of suicide or harming yourself. Then, there is active suicidal ideation where an individual not only thinks about wanting to die, but has the intent of committing suicide.
What Causes Suicide?
There is no single cause of suicide. However, many factors such as experiencing a mental illness, stressful event, grief, heartbreak, financial problems, or life stressors could lead an individual to suicide.
5 Myths About Suicide
1. Myth: People who threaten suicide are attention-seeking.
Truth: Always take someone seriously who talks about feeling suicidal. Talking to someone openly about suicide can help someone work through their thoughts and have a better chance of discovering different options.
2. Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Truth: Many individuals with a mental health condition are not affected with suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt suicide have a mental illness.
3. Myth: Suicide cannot be prevented.
Truth: Suicide is preventable, but it is unpredictable. There are many ways to prevent suicide. Knowing the warning signs, talking to people openly about suicide, being supportive, and getting treatment can prevent suicide.
4. Myth: Suicide is a selfish choice.
Truth: People do not commit suicide because because they do not want to live, they commit suicde because they want to end their suffering. Individuals who want to commit suicide are suffering so deeply that they feel alone or hopeless. Individuals experiencing suicidal ideations are not doing it by choice or just “thinking about themselves”. It is not because these individuals do not care about the people in their life, it is rather that they are in so much pain and they believe it is their only choice and it would be better for everyone.
5. Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will not attempt suicide again.
Truth: Oftentimes people who commit suicide and survive will make additional attempts.
What Are Some Warning Signs of Suicide ?
Suicide is preventable, by knowing the warning signs of suicide, we all can help save a loved one’s life.
- Feeling hopeless
- Talking about self-harming behaviors and suicide
- Sudden calmness after period of depression
- Making a plan or researching ways to die
- Personality or physical changes
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Using more drugs or alcohol
- Decline in work or school performance
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- A loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
- Distancing from loved ones
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Talking dangerous risks
Here are 5 things you can do to practice suicide prevention:
- Having a positive support system can truly make a difference. Having a person who you can trust is important to share feelings or thoughts that are occurring. There’s so much stigma about suicide and the only way to break it is sharing the truth. Make sure people know that they can reach out anytime and make sure you are actively listening because they should know you care. If you want those who are in your life to see you as a support system, make it clear, a text or phone call is all it takes.
- Listen to those who experienced suicidal thoughts and survived. Listen to what has helped them because getting help looks different for everyone and recovery is not linear. Not everything works for everyone.
- If you think someone is struggling, talk to them. Ask them how they are doing, ask open-ended questions to lead them to open up to you. If they seem unwilling to talk, let them know you are there for them.
- Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help they need. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage them to reach out to a professional.
- Help the person create a safety plan during a suicidal crisis. Include triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis and contact numbers for the person doctor or therapist, and emergency contacts.
These are only a few suggesting steps to take to learn about suicide and ways to prevent it, and following through and educating yourself and the public, can have a huge impact on those around you.
How Can We Play Your Parts In This Public Health Crisis?
If you or someone you know are having thoughts about suicide, in the process of making a suicide attempt, or talks about feeling hopelessness or having no reason to live, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Line at 988 or text NAMI to 741-741.
What can you do above and beyond sharing numbers for national resources? One very simple thing that you can do today is reaching out to the people you love. It may seem like it would not make a difference, but it does. Something as small as sending a text or picking up the phone to call someone you love, reminding them how important they are and how much you care for them, can make a difference in someone’s day, and takes minimal effort!
People should know that there is help available, do not be afraid to reach out, and there is no shame in asking for help. It is important to consider that formal mental healthcare can be expensive and inaccessible, even with insurance, and that social stigmas surround mental illnesses prevent people from reaching out for help because they believe people will not want to help. If cost is the issue, here at Norooz Clinic, we offer affordable mental health services to all and a safe place free of judgment. You are not alone!
Please contact us today at (714) 386-9171 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. Our therapists speak English, Farsi, and Spanish.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, July 18). Suicide prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/index.html
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Suicide. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Warning signs of suicide. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide