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World Suicide Prevention Day: Warning signs and resources


September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Recognizing the warning signs and providing resources to someone in need can be saved.

In 2020, suicide is the twelfth leading cause of death for Americans, according to CDC. And for people aged 10-34, it was one of the top three causes of death, the agency found.

The highest suicide rate in the US is among white men, according to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. However, the suicide rate among Blacks also increased slightly in 2020 compared to 2019.

Julie Goldstein Grumet, vice president of suicide prevention strategy and director of Zero Suicide Institute at the Center for Educational Development.

Prevention programs continue to do the work and provide resources, but often loved ones of people experiencing suicidal thoughts will be able to notice the signs and intervene.

Warning signs of suicidal ideation

Signs of suicidal ideation can range from verbal cues to behavioral changes, and some are not as obvious as you might think, says Goldstein Grumet.

Talking about suicidal thoughts

It’s not always as obvious as “I’m going to end it all” or “I’m going to kill myself,” she says, but if a loved one says those words to you, they should accept it. serious.

Goldstein Grumet says: “If someone you know is talking about suicide, directly or indirectly, it’s important to address it. Notes to watch out for include:

  • “Everyone would be better off without me.”
  • “I wish I was dead.”
  • “I can not take it anymore.”
  • “I just can’t go on.”
  • “You won’t have to worry about me anymore.”

Changing behavior includes creating a plan

Any indication that someone is planning to harm themselves is significant, she says, especially if you happen to be scouring their web history for ways to take their life. Other indicators could be someone reading or writing about suicide, she added.

Behavioral changes can suggest that someone is contemplating suicide, especially a reluctance to do activities they once enjoyed, Goldstein Grumet adds.

Changes such as the following are signs to watch out for:

  • No longer want to hang out with other people
  • Quit sports
  • Truant, get a lower score
  • Having a harder time going to work
  • Drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Sleep more or sleep less

Goldstein Grumet adds: “Some people with depression also think about suicide, but sometimes the depression looks more like anxiety or irritability. “So when we think about the warning signs, we also want to think about whether we’re seeing things like that.”

How to help a loved one who is contemplating suicide

Goldstein Grumet says: When you suspect someone is considering suicide, the next best step is to ask them if that was their intention or if they are seriously considering suicide.

“Asking directly doesn’t get someone into their head,” she says, “If they already have suicidal thoughts or ideas, being asked honestly and empathically, really makes them less anxious because now Now they can talk about it.”

You should never run away from a situation without asking if the person really wants to say what they are saying and must refrain from judging, as that can make matters worse. , she noted.

Goldstein Grumet says: “When we are talking, it needs to be empathetic and compassionate with our full attention while listening, “They just want to be heard and know they are heard.” .

Avoid sentences like:

  • “Why do you do that?”
  • “Don’t do anything stupid or crazy.”
  • “It’s not worth the frustration.”
  • “Everything will be fine.”

Aim for phrases like:

  • “Is suicide something you’re telling me you’re thinking about?”
  • “I care about you.”
  • “I want to understand.”
  • “I’m here, and I want to help you.”
  • “You’re not alone.”

Try to get as many details as possible to determine if they really have a plan, Goldstein Grumet adds.

“You want to know if they have access to the facilities to monitor or a chosen date to do so because it can tell you how imminent and high-risk the situation is,” she said.

Crisis Line 988 and other resources

Once someone has opened up to you about how they’re feeling, you can start recommending resources and start discussing the possibility of talking to a professional.

Remember to always follow up after a person has searched for these sources. Goldstein Grumet says it’s important to make sure they’re doing better, have a plan to continue using precautions, and know you’re supportive of them.

Here are some resources you can recommend:

  • Call 988: 24/7 suicide crisis hotline
  • Talk to a mental health professional. (Ask if you can bring them to the appointment if that’s more comfortable.)
  • Talk to your doctor or primary care physician

Goldstein Grumet says: “Suicide prevention is everyone’s job and everyone’s job. “It’s a public health issue. It takes community, faith, schools, workplaces, families, neighborhoods, healthcare and people to play a role in identifying those with risk.”

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