Each year, almost 41,000 struggling people take their own life in America and leave their family and friends behind. In the wake of tragedy, people often forget about the hardships of the family and friends (also known as “suicide loss survivors.”) Suicide Prevention Week takes place from September 8-14, 2019 with National Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. According to NAMI, “suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.” Suicide Prevention Week is an opportunity for us to reach out to those “affected by suicide, to raise awareness and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.” NAMI is here to help those families and ensure they can access the resources they need to help prevent suicide.
Recognizing the signs of suicide in a friend or loved one is very important. NAMI provides a list of things to keep an eye on such as increased drug and alcohol use, aggressive behavior, social withdrawal, dramatic mood swings, talking about death, and impulsive or reckless behavior. If your loved one suddenly stops this behavior, do not let your guard down. That could be a sign that he or she is planning to commit suicide. Signs to look out for include giving away their things, getting their affairs in order, saying goodbye to friends and family, mood shifts from despair to calm, and planning to steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide.
Suicide is not always directly related to mental illness. More than half (54 percent) of those who died by suicide were not diagnosed with a mental illness. Suicide tends to occur in people with a family history of suicide, substance abuse, intoxication, access to firearms, those with chronic medicial illness, a history of trauma or abuse, prolonged stress, isolation, age, a recent tragedy or loss, and sleep deprivation. Though more women attempt it, more men die by suicide.
Help is available for those who seek it. That is what National Suicide Prevention Week is all about. It was created to get rid of the stigmatization of suicide. If you or someone you know is thinking about taking a life, it is okay to seek help from mental health professionals and to go through cognitive behavioral therapy. Sometimes medication will help ease the symptoms of suicide and could be the right decision for you or your loved one.
It is up to us to make sure people can get the help that they need, especially in a crisis. Look forwarning signs in your loved ones and watch for things that could possibly trigger suicidal thoughts; you may just save their life by doing so. Sometimes, the happiest people on the outside feel the darkest on the inside.
If you are feeling suicidal, please talk to your doctor or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or call 911.
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Brooke Crockett is a third year student at the Ohio State University with an anticipated graduation of May 2020. She is majoring in Strategic Communication and double-minoring in Professional Writing and Nonprofit Studies. She is the current marketing/PR intern for NAMI Greater Toledo.