September is National Suicide Prevention Month. The following graphic from the Center For Disease Control (CDC), shows suicide statistics up through 2020.
The most shocking fact is, in the United States alone, suicide takes one life every 11 minutes! This is so tragic! According to sociologist Jason Manning, suicides don’t happen at the same rates all over the United States and are not only due to depression. For example, in the last decade suicide deaths in rural areas have increased by over 30%. He cites events like financial ruin, shame, broken relationships, and strife as important factors in suicide attempts and deaths. He says we need to “rethink suicide prevention.”
These realities suggest that suicide prevention involves much more than increasing the availability of therapists and prescriptions. It requires providing economic development and financial assistance to those in distress. People can help by strengthening communities and building social ties. Additionally, they can provide moral support, alternative means of conflict resolution and escape routes from abusive relationships.
Jason Manning Associate Professor of Sociology, West Virginia University
Check out his article for more information: Why do people die by suicide? Mental illness isn’t the only cause – social factors like loneliness, financial ruin and shame can be triggers
Suicide Prevention For Those Contemplating Suicide
“What People Who’ve Been Suicidal Want to Tell Someone Who’s Suicidal Today,” lists 16 thoughts or actions that can help you or a loved one stay. Here’s three of them.
#2 is “Find one thing you want to stay for.”
“The one thing keeping me alive was the fact that I hadn’t seen the Grand Canyon. Now that I’ve seen it, I look forward to going back.” — PostSecret
#10 is “Turn your pain into art.”:
“Duct tape, nails, superglue… all played a part in my suicide plan. I decided to turn the tables and create art from them.” — Susan
I loved #13 “You are not your thoughts.”:
“Your thoughts don’t define you as a person. You’re worthy of love and living. In those moments when it feels like all hope is lost, just keep swimming. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes you’ve just gotta squint to see it.” — Brittany L.
For more of these tips from survivors, see the link below:
If you’re struggling with depression, there are many resources available to you. Check out my previous post about depression resources here: https://www.upbeatliving.net/depression-resources-healing/
Alternatives to Suicide
Carlene Byron wrote the article Why ‘Suicide Alternatives’ Are My Best Suicide Prevention about her experience living with suicidal thoughts for over 7300 days. She talks about how she finished college and holds down a job despite feeling suicidal for that long. She lists the things she did instead of suicide. You can read her article here:
Signs to Look For In Yourself and Others
- Feeling like a burden
- Being isolated
- Increased anxiety
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased substance use
- Looking for a way to access lethal means
- Increased anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Expressing hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Making plans for suicide
From #BeThere to Help Prevent Suicide at https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/be-there-prevent-suicide/index.html
The Five Steps For Suicide Prevention
Even though suicide is a serious problem, “it is possible to reduce deaths from suicide like we have reduced heart disease fatalities and other leading causes of death. For every person who dies by suicide annually, there are another 316 people who have thought seriously about suicide who don’t kill themselves, and nearly 60 who have survived a suicide attempt. The overwhelming majority of these individuals will go on to live out their lives.”
The following five steps can help prevent suicides.
- First, Ask. “Are you thinking about suicide?” [This] “communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.”
- Be There. “This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk.”
- Keep Them Safe. If the person tells you they’re thinking about suicide, further questions need to be asked to find out if the person has a plan and the means to carry out that plan. *Having access to a gun increases a person’s risk of dying by suicide.
- Help Them Connect. If the person is thinking about suicide, and/or is in distress, help them get in touch with a suicide text or phone hotline. Currently in the United States, people can call or text 988 for crisis help. They may also need help to connect with mental health resources like individual or group therapy.
- The last step is Follow Up. “After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing. Leave a message, send a text, or give them a call.”
Read HOW AND WHY THE 5 STEPS CAN HELP to learn more about each step.
Make the world a better place with kindness and fairness
Our world can be a dark and scary place for many people. Each one of us can spread kindness and love to those around us. Check out The Mighty’s article 44 Ways to Spread the Love on World Suicide Prevention Day for ideas on how to do this.
But don’t stop there. Advocate and use your vote to promote equal access to quality education, and jobs that pay a living wage. Speak up against inequality. Learn how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Volunteer, as you’re able, with local community organizations that help the needy and/or provide vital skills to children. Work on improving your own mental health so you can inspire others to be brave and do the same. Your life matters!
I hope this post has given you the info you need to help prevent suicide in your friends and loved ones. Read the resources and share with everyone you know. Together, we can reduce suicides.
Till next time, Kathy
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