Suicide Awareness & Prevention
“You are strong enough to face it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now”.
Have you ever felt so hopeless and helpless that life was not worth living? You sit alone and contemplate your options, yet nothing seems possible except ending your life. You do not wish to feel so miserable, down in the dumps, and suicidal, yet that is the only thought that keeps racing around in your mind. You don’t realize how strong and resilient you are at the moment, and it’s difficult to remember all those times you have felt like you hit rock bottom. Yet, time and time again, you have pulled yourself up, worked though the emotional pain, and achieved even more strength than you had before.
“Sometimes we need to be brave enough to outgrow the life that we’ve built. As broken as you may feel, you are still strong. There’s something to be said for how you hold yourself together and keep moving, even though you feel like shattering. Don’t stop. This is your healing. It doesn’t have to be pretty or graceful. You just need to keep going”.
More years of life are lost to suicide than any other causes of death, besides cancer and heart disease. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States. It is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-34, and the 4th leading cause for people ages 35-54 years old. It is estimated that someone ends their life by suicide approximately every 40 seconds, and unfortunately, it is rapidly increasing.
What are some risk factors that influence suicide?
“Your thoughts are incredibly powerful. Choose them wisely. You are always one decision away from a totally different reality”.
There are several risk factors influencing suicidality today. Alcohol and substance abuse are both on the rise, and they play a major role in people’s decision-making skills and mental health stability. Isolation raises the risk, and more than half of the population reports feeling alone without anyone to turn to. Increasing Smartphone Use has been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors in teenagers. Climate Change has about the same impact on increasing suicides as does Financial Distress.
There are many other factors that play a role in a person’s decision to attempt suicide. Traumas, history of Abuse & Abusive relationships, fear, mental health instability, social media influences, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, and despair, are just a few of the many reasons people turn to suicide.
How do I know if someone is contemplating suicide?
“She hides all of her problems behind a smile. Behind her smile is a world of hurt and pain. You think you know her, but you really have no idea”.
There are times when we lose someone we’re close to, and their suicide completely blind- sides us. We are left standing in a state of shock, wondering what went wrong. Why didn’t I know? What warning signs did I miss? Was there anything I could have said or done differently?
“L.E.A.R.N.” is a Suicide Awareness & Prevention tool that can help you identify suicidal ideation, symptoms, emotions, and behaviors.
L: Look for warning signs such as: Feeling hopeless, helpless and like a burden; Increase in depression and isolation; Actions like giving away items/ personal belongings; alcohol/ drug abuse; self-harming behaviors such as cutting or burning one’s self; and threats of death and dying. Difficult situations often push a fragile, unstable person over the edge. These circumstances may entail: Death or loss of a loved one; Trauma; Bad break-ups; Divorce; Rejection; Legal and/ or financial problems.
E: Empathize and LISTEN! Be calm and compassionate. Avoid judging and offering to “fix” their problems. Just empathetically listen.
A: Ask DIRECTLY about suicide, especially if you are concerned. Asking someone if they are considering suicide does not increase the risk, it actually lowers it. For example: You can say, “I noticed you haven’t been the same lately. I care about you and your well-being. Sometimes when people feel awful, they start thinking about suicide. Is that something you are thinking about”?
R: Remove the danger. This refers to removing access to guns, knives, weapons, ropes, belts, chemicals, and excess medication.
N: Next Level of Care. If someone is in eminent danger of harming themselves, don’t hesitate to call 911 or ask someone for help. Stay with them and offer to connect them with resources such as: Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7 @ 1 (800) 723-8255 (TALK), Press 1 for Veteran’s Crisis, or call the Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQAI @ 1 (866) 488-7386.
“Never assume you are stuck with the way things are right now. You aren’t. Life changes every single moment, and you can too. At any given moment, you have the power to say: ‘This is not how the story is going to end’. You can either run from the pain, or accept it and LEARN from it”.
LIFE IS NOT EASY! Creating a life worth living makes things much more bearable. Reaching out to others for support helps you to build a strong, caring support system. Our support system is there for us when we need them the most. They reach out their hand and pull us up when we have crashed to the ground. They help us rise higher and grow stronger every time we fall. Their support reassures us that we are not all alone. Your support system is a crucial part of your life journey, especially when you are struggling mentally, emotionally, and you’re fighting the urges to engage in self-injurious behaviors.
When you feel supported and not so alone, even the most difficult of times is a little less scary. It’s not about “fixing” the problem. There is no “quick fix”. It’s about listening, empathizing, and showing compassion.
EVERYONE has a role to play in suicide prevention. “L-E-A-R-N” the steps so you can help others “LEARN” them too!
“I hope that someday, when I’m gone, someone, somewhere picks my soul up off these pages and thinks, ‘I would have loved her’.”