Do you know the subtle signs of someone at risk for suicide? How would you respond if your teen, family member or colleague said they wanted to die? Unfortunately, way too many times our response is, “don’t be silly” or “you have everything to live for”. Is that what the person seeking helps need to hear? The nation was recently shocked and saddened by the suicides of two well-known persons, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (USA Today, 2018); two people, who seemingly had “everything”. Suicide goes beyond money and things.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month and September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention week. According to the CDC (2018), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death so it is more important than ever to recognize the signs of suicide and know the appropriate steps to save a life.
Signs & Symptoms
- Statements about wanting to die or being a burden
- Statements about feeling hopeless or useless especially with no life change(s) i.e. loss of job, divorce, etc.
- Purchasing weapons, approach person for conversation
- Talking about feeling trapped
- Expressing unbearable pain
Other signs to acknowledge:
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Purchasing or borrowing firearms
Adolescents & Children
Please don’t ignore teens and children. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (ASPCC), (2018):
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for those ages 10-24
- More than 4600 children and young adults commit suicide each year
- Every day, children in 7-12th grades, there are 5400 suicide attempts
- Four out of five teens exhibited warnings
According to the Journal of American Medicine (2018), young adults who are bullied are more than twice as likely to consider suicide.
In addition to the signs listed above, make sure that you speak to your children about the following topics:
- Bullying – this is a way to ease into a conversation about suicide, especially with younger kids
For additional information related to suicide, visit one of these sites:
- American Association of Suicidology
- American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
How Can YOU Help?
- Recognize that suicide is now becoming an epidemic
- Spread the word to increase suicide awareness
- Know the statistics
- Speak at your child’s school
- Communicate the issue at your local church/place of worship
- Be mindful of the signs & symptoms and talk to friends/others that you feel may being having thoughts
- Encourage people to seek care
- Don’t ignore the signs