Whether you have personally lost a loved one to suicide or are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and every 1 in 5 people who die by suicide are veterans. But there is always hope. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide, as well as the driving force behind National Suicide Prevention Week this September 5-11.
The best way to help yourself or a loved one is to learn about the suicide warning signs, risk factors and where to reach out for help. Although about 75% of those who die by suicide exhibit some warning signs, it is important to be aware that some people do not show any signs at all. Recognizing the risk factors and warning signs of suicide is something we can all do to help prevent the loss of more lives, so take some time to familiarize yourself.
Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.
- Mental health conditions
- Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
- Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Psychotic disorders, or psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain
- Stressful life events which may include a death, divorce, or job loss
- Prolonged stress factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems, and unemployment
- Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
- Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide attempts
There is no one cause for suicide, but take action if you see a noticeable change in behavior (or appearance of new behaviors) in someone you think may be suicidal, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change.
If a person talks about:
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Experiencing unbearable pain
- Having no reason to live
- Killing themselves
Specific things to look out for include:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
- Acting recklessly
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
If you or someone you know exhibits any of the suicide warning signs listed above, immediate action is required. Please always take suicide warning signs seriously and seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional, calling 911 in an emergency situation, or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Be the voice to stop suicide by starting conversations and sharing resources on social media using the #StopSuicide hashtag. The AFSP has a collection of sharable images and suicide prevention stats that make it easy for everyone help spread the word. You can also sign and share the pledge to be there when someone needs to talk.
During National Suicide Prevention Week the AFSP has organized more than 350 “Out of the Darkness” walks throughout the United States. Walking side-by-side in unison helps to create a culture of openness, and acceptance, while providing a welcoming environment to share stories. With a chapter in all 50 states, you can click here to find a walk near you.
At Greenbrook TMS NeuroHealth Centers, we want to ensure people get the help they need. If you or a loved one are suffering with depression and medication and talk-therapy have not been enough, please visit us here.
Thank you for reading and joining our conversation.
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