|4 Ways to Save a Life September is suicide prevention awareness month. At some point in our lives, many of us have felt so overwhelmed by depression and devoid of hope that we have thought about taking our own life or someone close to us has felt that way. |
According to CDC figures, there were nearly twice as many suicides as homicides in the United States in 2020. In fact, suicide was the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10-14 and 25-34, the third for those aged 15-24, and the fourth for those 35-44. For anyone not in the grip of depression and despair, it can be difficult to understand why someone would want to take their own life. But the truth is that when someone’s suffering has become unbearable, suicide can seem like the only way out.
A suicidal person does not want to die, they just want the pain to stop. The last few years have been particularly difficult for many people, for many different reasons. But if you know someone who is desperate and may be considering suicide, there are things you can do to help save their life.
Recognize the warning signs Most suicidal people signal their intentions, however subtly. They may talk about death or harming themselves, feel hopeless and have nothing to look forward to, or gather drugs or weapons to act on their thoughts. They may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect their appearance, or demonstrate dramatic swings in mood, behavior, sleeping, and eating patterns.
Speak up It is never easy to talk to someone about suicide, especially if you’re worried you might be wrong or scared about upsetting the person. But speaking up now can help save your loved one’s life. Start by simply saying you are concerned about the changes in their mood or outlook. Listen to them express their feelings without judging or arguing. Then let them know that they’re not alone, you care deeply and want to help.
Offer support You are not responsible for making a suicidal person get better. But you can encourage them to get help whether that is seeing a mental health professional or calling a crisis line. You can also help your loved one make a safety plan, steps they can take in a suicidal crisis, such as calling you, their therapist, or a helpline. If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call the emergency services number but never leave the person alone.
Do not believe common misconceptions about suicide There is still a lot of stigma and misinformation surrounding suicidal thoughts and actions. Keep in mind the following: Feeling suicidal is not a character defect and it does not mean that someone is crazy or weak. It simply means that they have more emotional pain than they can cope with right now. Trying to fix a suicidal person’s problems, giving advice, or telling them how much they have to live for isn’t helpful. It is not about how bad their problem is, but how badly it is hurting them. You will not give someone suicidal ideas by talking about suicide. But talking openly and honestly about it can help save your loved one’s life and put them on the road to recovery.