Help Save a Life

September is suicide awareness month and with the recent passing of yet another influential person, Robin Williams, due to suicide, it couldn’t be more timely to talk about suicide awareness and prevention. 

Suicide is a topic that we tend to shy away from, avoiding talking about it as much as possible, but we cannot turn the other cheek to it and pretend it does not exist. Did you know that 2011 CDC data reported that there were nearly 40,000 deaths by suicide in the US? That breaks down to one completed suicide roughly every 13 minutes. Those figures are just for completed suicide—the CDC currently does not fully track suicide attempts. Although there is no direct data on attempts, it is estimated that nearly one million people annually attempt suicide. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the US and is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24. The highest number of completed suicides are of persons aged 45-64 years, followed by elderly adults aged 85+. Although suicide rates are fairly low for young persons, aged 15-24, it is still the second leading cause of death amongst this age group. 

The thing about suicide is: It is preventable. 

Some people think that by talking about suicide they will tip a person thinking about suicide to actually attempt the act, but that is a myth. Most people who are contemplating suicide do not actually want to die. What they want is their pain to end. People who are contemplating suicide often feel like they can’t talk to anyone about it, or that no one will understand. This is why it is super important to be as open about suicide as possible and help when needed. 

Some tell-tale signs of if a person is contemplating suicide include:

-Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself/talking about death as the answer
-Talking about or becoming very preoccupied with death
-Looking for a means to kill oneself
-Talking about being a burden on others
-Talking about being trapped
-Behaving recklessly
-Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
-Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
-Suddenly feeling very happy and not provide any explanation as to why
-Giving away their prized possessions
-Saying “goodbye” to people and making other “end of life” arrangements. 

If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, below are a few ways that you can help save a life:

-Talk about it: If you feel someone might be thinking of suicide, ask them directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself? The more direct you are about it, the more direct the answer you will get. The worst way to ask the question is: You aren’t thinking of killing yourself, are you? Never, ever ask it in that way. When you ask the question in that way, you are letting the person know that you don’t really want them to say “Yes.” It is in the way the question is asked. Also, if you are worried someone might be thinking of killing themselves, it is better to ask the question directly by using the word, “killing” rather than something like, “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?” This is because for some people who are contemplating suicide, the idea of taking their own life does not equate to hurting themselves, because they feel the pain they are in hurts more than ending it. Once you are able to ask the question, if the answer is “Yes,” let that person know how much you care about them and want to help them get help.  

-Know the resources:  There are always 24 hour crisis lines available. In addition to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), there is the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline (1-855-278-4204), and the EMQ Crisis Line for Children and Teens (1-877-41-CRISIS). Also in Santa Clara County there is the Mental Health Urgent Care located at Valley Medical Center (871 Enborg Lane San Jose, CA). (More resources can be found on the Resources page.) If a loved one you know has said they are considering suicide, let them know of the resources and perhaps offer to call them together. 

-Call for emergency help: If you feel someone’s life is in danger, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. 

Suicide is scary, and in no way, shape, or form am I saying that you the reader, as a non-professional, should be offering counseling to a person who might disclose thoughts of suicide to you. However, what I am advocating for is an awareness of how to know someone might be considering suicide and how to respond to get them to the professional help necessary in order to save a life if you ever need to. Your job is to ask the question, let them know you care about the person, and refer them to the appropriate professional help. 

With this awareness, we can all do our part in helping to save lives from this very preventable tragedy. 

If you are feeling suicidal thoughts at this time, contact one of the resources above, or dial 9-1-1 immediately. 

If you are feeling depressed and are ready for relief, contact us today for your free initial consultation. 

Sources used:

“Facts and Figures.” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Suicide Facts.” Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).

“Symptoms and Danger Signs.” Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).