September is National Suicide Prevention Month – a month aimed at bringing awareness to the prevalence of suicide and teaching individuals how they can play a role in its prevention.
One of the first and most important steps in preventing suicide is knowing the warning signs that may indicate that someone is having suicidal thoughts or urges. An individual who is suicidal will often say or do things that can alert those around them of their situation. Check out the graphic below and familiarize yourself with the language, moods and behavior that are common indicators that a person may be planning to attempt suicide.
As the graphic shows, a person who is considering suicide may exhibit several warning signs. If you are knowledgeable about what those warning signs are, you are in a good position to help. Help can come in many forms and is not limited to one approach, but one of the most important things you can do is reach out and start the conversation. It may seem uncomfortable or awkward to ask someone if they are having suicidal thoughts or urges, but just having the conversation could literally save a life.
While many people may refrain from talking to or asking someone about suicide for fear that they may put the notion in that person’s head, studies actually show that there are no ill effects from asking someone about suicide. In fact, for individuals that are considering it, talking about it can offer them a sense of relief, as well as an opportunity to seek help. Despite knowing this, you may still feel unsure or nervous about how to start that conversation and that’s okay; it’s important that you are direct and non-judgmental when asking if they are considering suicide. Here is an article that offers a few different ways you can start the conversation. If you don’t feel like you know a person well enough and feel uncomfortable asking them personal questions, please don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you feel can talk to and help a person.
Also, know that there are a number of resources that can provide assistance to a person who is suicidal. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk and obtain resources where you live. When seeking to help someone who is suicidal, urge them to reach out to those who can help. If you can and if they’re willing, help them schedule an appointment to get help right then and there. One final thing you can do to help is to FOLLOW UP! Reach out and ask the person in need if they made it to their appointment, if they’re doing better and if there is anything you can do to help them. Oftentimes, people who consider suicide feel isolated and alone, so providing them with support and showing them that you care can make all the difference.