While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, National Suicide Awareness Month provides a dedicated time every September to come together and discuss the often difficult topic. Though the narrative is a heavy, challenging conversation to have, it is necessary to talk about. Everyone is affected by suicide, not just the victim.
Suicide impacts family and friends long after the loss of a loved one. It’s vital to spread awareness, take time to reach out to those who may be struggling and put in the effort to understand the severity of suicidal thoughts that can lead to a temporary problem becoming a permanent and painful outcome.
Depressive thoughts can plague anyone regardless of age, gender or social status. There is no foolproof indicator of them or their tendencies as most people suffering tend to cover it up well. However, some warning signs can appear.
- An increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Collecting and saving pills or buying weapons
- Withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Giving away possessions
- Saying goodbye
If any are present in someone you know, it’s important to address a mental health crisis quickly and effectively. However, unlike other health emergencies, mental health situations do not have clear instructions on what to do or what to expect--like the Heimlich maneuver for choking or CPR for resuscitation.
- Ask them directly if they’re thinking about harming themself. Yes, it might be blunt. But there’s no room to beat around the bush when concerned about someone’s safety. Approach the situation with an open and compassionate mindset.
- When they answer you, listen. People with suicidal thoughts often feel alone, so be sure to let them know that you care deeply about what they have to say. Instead of arguing or trying to disprove any negative statements, reflect their feelings and summarise their thoughts.This can help them feel heard and validated.
- Remove anything they could use to harm themselves, such as alcohol, drugs, medications, weapons or even access to a vehicle. Let them know you are taking these things away and explain to them why.
- Finally, don’t keep it a secret. Call their mental health professional, if they speak with one. If they don’t, act timely and find one who can help utilize the many services and resources available.
Use this month to help make suicide easier to discuss. Spread hope and vital information to your loved ones and community. You never know who might be saved by simply starting conversations.
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