According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 41,000 people die from suicide each year. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to shed light on this important topic that is often stigmatized.
If someone says they are having suicidal thoughts, it should be taken seriously. The two most important steps in suicide prevention are recognizing the warning signs and getting help.
Here is what you need to know
Any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean the person will commit suicide, but several of them may signal a strong need for help.
- Talking or writing about suicide, death, or the afterlife, including verbal hints, such as, “You’d be better off without me”
- Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means to end his or her life
- Expressing hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness (no reason for living)
- Dramatic mood swings or personality changes
- Depression; lack of interest in usual activity or future plans
- Increased drug or alcohol use
- Feeling trapped, no way out
- Isolating from family, friends and society
- Giving away prized possessions
Be alert especially if a person has attempted suicide in the past.
What to do if you think someone is suicidal
If anyone you know mentions suicide, encourage them to get professional help. If there is an immediate crisis, have them call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255) or 911.
Also consider counseling for yourself if you observe warning signs, especially if the person is resistant to getting help.
For Health Advocate members
If you are a Health Advocate member who has access to the EAP+Work/Life program, turn to us. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Getting help early is important. If you or a loved one feels persistent sadness, hopelessness, or struggles with other mental health problems, contact us. We can help you get confidential support, resources, and if needed, referrals.