Preventing Suicide

 

Photo by Fayez Closed AccountAccording to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) there are more than 38,000 deaths by suicide per year. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., for all ages. It is the 3rd leading cause of death among people ages 15-24, the majority of suicides are by firearms. But these statistics don’t tell the whole the story, of the life cut short, the missed graduation, the missed prom, and broken life cycle. It doesn’t tell the story of the family left in agony.  As people of faith we should pray for all those who suicide has touched, pray that the light of God would fill them and give them hope. We should also be aware and know the warning signs of suicide and the best ways to respond if we suspect a friend, spouse, child, or a loved one is considering suicide. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health there are risk factors to look for and there are ways to respond.

Risk Factors for suicide:

 

  • Depression and other mental health disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Prior suicide attempt or thoughts
  • Family history of a mental health disorder
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including abuse
  • Firearms in the home
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
  • Victim of bullying

 

Warning signs for suicide include:

 

  • Talking about wanting to die or talking about killing themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, e.g., searching for a gun or pills
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feelings of hopelessness (a strong predictor of suicidal thoughts and attempts)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting agitated (an increase from normal behavior)
  • Sleeping to much or to little
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Selling or giving away possessions

 

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal:

 

  • Do not leave them alone
  • Take all conversation of suicide seriously
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-888-273-8255
  • Get immediate help by calling your primary care physician and/or mental health professional listed on your insurance card, go to the nearest emergency room, or call 911
  • Safely eliminate access to firearms and unsupervised medication

 

Ultimately we need to remember that the vast majority of suicides are linked to changes within the brain chemistry. In essence the brain is sick. The stigma around suicidal thoughts and behaviors needs to be removed so people are not scared to get help.  As a faith-filled community, we need to support those around us and offer hope, compassion, and understanding to those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

 

Links:

 

Center for Disease Control

 

National Institutes of Mental Health

 

Suicide Prevention  Lifeline 

 

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons / (c) Fayez Closed Account

 

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