Suicide rates have increased by approximately 36% between 2000 – 2021, casting a long shadow over our society. It’s a grim reality that we must confront, but there is a glimmer of hope amidst this darkness. Suicide prevention is not just a concept; it’s a lifeline for those struggling and their loved ones. If you or someone you know is battling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please know that help is available and there is a way out of the abyss.
They can text or call 988 – We can all help prevent suicide. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. En Español, deaf and hard of hearing services are offered as well.
Suicidal ideation is a complex issue, often shrouded in silence and stigma. But recognizing the signs and taking proactive steps can save lives. Being vigilant and compassionate is crucial, for our actions can make all the difference.
Common Signs of Suicidal Thoughts:
- Talking about wanting to die: When someone you care about starts expressing a desire to end their life, it’s a clear call for help.
- Feeling empty, hopeless, and without reason to live: The emotional pain that leads to suicidal thoughts can be excruciating. The belief that life has lost its meaning can be overwhelming.
- Feeling trapped/without solutions: People contemplating suicide often feel like they have no way out of their problems. They may believe that death is the only escape.
- Talk of being a burden to others: Suicidal individuals often see themselves as a burden to their loved ones, convinced that their absence would be better for everyone.
- Withdrawing from family and friends: Social isolation can be a strong indicator. Someone who once enjoyed the company of others suddenly distances themselves.
- Giving away important possessions: This could be a way of saying goodbye or settling unfinished business.
- Saying goodbye: When someone starts saying farewell, even in subtle ways, it’s time to pay close attention.
- Putting affairs in order: Preparing for one’s own death by settling financial and personal matters is a distressing sign of imminent danger.
- Taking dangerous risks: Engaging in reckless behavior might reflect disregarding one’s own life.
- Thinking often about death: If someone frequently contemplates death, it’s a cry for help that should never be ignored.
Recognizing these signs is the first step toward suicide prevention, but what follows is equally crucial – seeking help and offering support.
Jessica Long, the Behavioral Health Director at Erlanger, defines suicide prevention as a compassionate step taken to support someone in need. She emphasizes that we should never be afraid to ask if someone is contemplating hurting themselves. Taking that courageous step to initiate the conversation can be life-saving.
“Let this person know you care about them, you’re worried about them, and just simply ask if they have thoughts about hurting themselves. Their answer will dictate your next steps, ranging from setting up an outpatient appointment to going to an ER by private vehicle or police. Most importantly, if you’re concerned that someone is about to or has hurt themselves, call 911,” says Long.
Remember, the emergency department of any hospital can help address and assess any thoughts of suicide. Additionally, there are resources available to you, such as those offered by Erlanger, that are specifically designed to provide support in times of crisis.
You are not alone in this journey. Reaching out for help is a brave act, and there are countless individuals and organizations ready to stand beside you and offer a lifeline when you need it most. Suicide prevention is not just about saving lives; it’s about bringing hope.
In memory of those we have lost to suicide, let us pledge to be vigilant, compassionate, and supportive. Let us shatter the silence and stigma that surrounds this issue. Together, we can light a path through the darkness and bring hope to those who need it most.
For more information and access to Erlanger’s behavioral health resources, please visit HERE. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those in crisis.