Did you know that in the United States, one person dies from suicide approximately every 13 minutes, resulting in 40,000 deaths each year? Today is World Suicide Prevention Day so I wanted to share some information from NurseWise, a national multilingual nurse triage and health care provider.
Often, those who commit suicide feel hopeless, as if they do not have a reason to live, that they are a burden on their families or society, and that the world may be better off without them. By learning more about the red flags, you can be an active part of interventions that save lives.
1. Keep your ears open. We could all probably be better listeners in general, but when it comes to friends or family considering suicide, listening is crucial. If you’re hearing statements indicating they can’t handle things anymore, they feel trapped, life would be better without them or they’re expressing an interest in death – take heed. Talking about dying is not a normal reaction to stress, so act calmly, but quickly. Don’t upset people displaying these symptoms or make them feel as though they cannot talk to you about how they are feeling, but it’s probably time to seek help.
2. Watch for signs of depression. If you’re noticing bouts of continued sadness, seclusion from friends and family, or decreased interest in activities or social environments, these may all be indicators they are suffering from depression. They may also show an increase or decrease in their eating or sleeping habits, or their mood may become more aggressive or anxious. This is the time to have a conversation for some nonjudgmental fact-finding.
3. They’re suddenly a daredevil. Are they taking more risks than they used to? Are you noticing them participating in dangerous, harmful or reckless activities? If you’re noticing behavior that could hurt them, including substance abuse, it’s time to speak up.
4. Saying “goodbye.” This may seem obvious, but often calls or visits to say “goodbye” are dismissed by others as being peculiar but not alarming. If you experience calls like this or see similar posts on social media bidding farewell, reach out to professionals for help right away. Giving away favorite belongings may also be an indicator they have given up on life and are preparing to take drastic actions. Call the suicide prevention hotline below for information about how to talk about your concerns.
5. There’s a history of or recent increase in risk factors. Certain situations or conditions can increase risk of suicide, including a family history of suicide or abuse as a child. It’s also important to consider if your friends or loved ones are suffering from a significant loss (job or family), physical illness, mental disorder (including depression), substance abuse or impulsive behavior. These and other risk factors may serve as an alert to keep a watchful eye and ear open.
If you are concerned someone is considering trying to commit suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.