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  • Alainnah Knight

National Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This is a time to bring awareness to the topic of suicide to provide education, support, and a community for anyone who has been impacted by suicide.


Today we are going to take the opportunity to talk about resources for those who are feeling suicidal or who have a loved one who is feeling suicidal.


Risk Factors for Suicide

It is valuable to know the risk factors for suicide to assist yourself, a friend, or a loved one. Here are a few Common Risk Factors for suicide:

  • Age

  • Family History

  • Gender

  • Chronic Medical Illness

  • Prolonged Stress

  • Recent Tragedy or Loss

  • Accessible Firearms

  • Substance Misuse and Overuse

  • Intoxication

Risk Factors for Suicide From NAMI

National Alliance on Mental Health (2023). Risk Factors for Suicide [image]. NAMI. Arlington, VA. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide

Warning Signs

When we are aware of the Risk Factors and Warning Signs of suicide, we are able to offer and access help for ourselves or loved ones sooner. Warning signs can start small and gradually become more dangerous. Here are a few Common Warning Signs:

  • Increased Substance Use

  • Aggressive Behavior

  • Withdrawaling Socially

  • Dramatic Mood Swings

  • Impulsive and/or Reckless Behavior


If you are experiencing in yourself or noticing in a loved one the following behaviors, please seek immediate help from a health professional or call 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:

  • Collecting and Saving Pills

  • Buying a Weapon

  • Giving Away Possessions

  • Tying Up Loose Ends (Paying Off Debts, Making Amends, Organizing Personal Files)

  • Saying Goodbye to Friends and Family


Warning Signs for Suicide from NAMI

National Alliance on Mental Health (2023). Warning Signs for Suicide [image]. NAMI. Arlington, VA. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide


Supporting Someone In Crisis

We can oftentimes be overwhelmed, unprepared, and not sure what to do next when there is a suicide-related crisis. The behaviors of an individual who is experiencing this crisis can be very unpredictable and escalate without warning.


Here are a few ways that you can support someone in a crisis:

  • Have an open and honest discussion. Never be afraid to ask if someone has been having thoughts of suicide. Here are a few ways you can ask:

"Have you had any thoughts of wanting to die or end your life?"

"Have you had any thoughts of suicide recently?"

  • Remain calm and ask simple, direct questions. Such as:

"Can I help you call your counselor or psychiatrist?"

"Would you like to call or text 988?"

  • Make sure there are not multiple people talking at one time if there is more than one person of support present.

  • Express your support and concern for the person.

  • Remove any harmful means (guns, knives, pills, etc.)

  • Don't argue or yell at the person

  • Don't debate the topic of suicide

  • Check-in with how you are showing up in the moment: Are you anxious and fidgeting and pacing? Are you stressed and is it showing in your voice? Are you scared of asking the difficult questions?

  • Be patient (with yourself and everyone else)


Supporting Someone in Crisis from NAMI

National Alliance on Mental Health (2023). Supporting Someone in Crisis [image]. NAMI. Arlington, VA. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide


Crisis Resources

  • Call or Text 988 to be connected to a crisis counselor for emotional support and other services

  • Visit https://988lifeline.org/chat/ for the chat feature on the website

  • Text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.


Next Steps

Whether you have experienced a suicide crisis or have witnessed a friend who has experienced a suicide crisis, setting up an appointment with a mental health professional can help you find support, process your experience, and assist in finding coping mechanisms.



Resources


National Alliance on Mental Health (2023). NAMI. Arlington, VA. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide



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