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How to Help on World Suicide Prevention Day

  • Category: Health & Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Apicha Community Health Center

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life.

September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day. Nearly 800,000 people each year die from suicide, a staggering number that we must strive to change. And as more folks struggle with mental health during the pandemic, it's more important than ever to help prevent suicide.

A Growing Problem

Suicide rates have been steadily increasing since 1999, increasing almost 35%. Suicide and suicide attempts affect everyone, and have ripple effects on friends, families, coworkers, and communities. It is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally.

  • 79% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2016
  • Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 18th leading cause of death in 2016.
  • There are more deaths from suicide than war and homicide combined.
  • In 2018, the suicide rate among males was 3.7 times higher (22.8 per 100,000) than among females (6.2 per 100,000).
  • 4.3% of adults age 18 and older in the United States had serious thoughts about suicide in 2018.
  • In 2018, 10.7 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts of suicide, and 1.4 million adults attempted suicide during the past year.
  • For LGBTQ+ people aged 10–24, suicide is one of the leading causes of death, according to the National Institute on Mental Illness.
  • LGBTQ+ folks are three more times likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.

Suicide Can Be Prevented

Prevention is the most powerful tool to help reduce suicide. By understanding the issues surrounding suicide and mental health is key to prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide. Knowing the risk factors and warning signs are also critical.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They don't necessarily cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they're important to be aware of.

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
  • Hoplessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss

What Are the Warning Signs?

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

How You Can Help

Realizing someone is in need can be scary, and stressful if you don't know what the right thing to do is. If you notice any of these warning signs and/or risk factors, there are ways to help those you care about. Here are a few steps and ways to get someone's help, talk with them, and support them in the right way. If someone is in an emergency, call 911 right away.

1. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 at any time for help if a friend is struggling. They can direct you to local resources, talk to you friend, and guide you. You can also call these hotlines:

2. Talking with and finding help for someone that may be suicidal can be difficult. Here are some tips that may help.

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, like weapons or pills.
  • Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

3. Use the 5 action steps from the #BeThe1To campaign.

  • Ask & listen. Ask your friend or loved one if they're thinking about suicide. Then listen.
  • Be there. Whether this means physically or over the phone, support your person in need. It can be life-changing.
  • Keep them safe. Make sure your friend or loved one is safe and hasn't planned to or already harmed themselves. Find out everything you need to know to make sure they're safe.
  • Help them connect. Connect your friend to immediate resources, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Help them find other resources they'll need as well, like finding a mental health professional or community organization
  • Follow up. After the initial conversation about suicide, check in with your friend to see how they're doing. Leave a message, text, or call.

How Apicha CHC Can Help You

Apicha CHC offers counseling and short-term behavioral therapy to our patients. We have qualified and experience counselors on site. If you or someone you know would like to make an appointment with one of our counselors, or are seeking other mental health services, click here.