Recently, some high-profile suicides have been in the headlines, making it more important than ever to discuss the stigmatized topic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that suicide rates increased across all but one state between 1999 and 2016. In more than half of the deaths in 27 states, people had no known mental health conditions before ending their own lives.
A person’s suicidal state is often temporary and providing help can be lifesaving. There are three steps everyone can take to help others who might be contemplating ending their life.
First, remove the stigma. The ‘S’ word is often treated like Voldemort’s name from the Harry Potter series: unspoken with fear of what it conjures. This is wrong. Psychologists say people need to communicate about suicide so that those struggling with suicidal thoughts know they are not alone.
Second, be educated about warning signs. These signs include, but are not limited to, isolating oneself from family and friends, hopelessness, self-hating thoughts or language, loss of interest in favorite activities and increased use of alcohol or dugs. When aware of these signs, you can quickly intervene if someone appears to be struggling.
Third, know what resources are available that can be tapped if you need help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK, and trained counselors are available to speak with you or loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Another useful resource is the CRISIS Text Line, which can be reached by texting GO to 741741. This free service has trained counselors available via text.
Through greater awareness and communication, we can save lives.