Living Well: Know signs to prevent suicide — Suicide 2nd-leading cause of death for those age 10 to 34
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
- Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods.
- Withdrawing from activities.
- Isolating from family and friends.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Loss of interest
- Relief/sudden improvement
If you hear a friend say things, like: “My family would be better off without me,” or “I don’t want to live anymore,” or “I just want to sleep forever,” or “I can’t do this anymore,” it’s time to perk up and really listen. These words are sometimes what people say instead of saying, “I want to kill myself.” They are often said with just as much sincerity, but are easier to brush off. Recognizing these and other signs of suicide is the first important step in preventing suicide among family members and friends.
People with depression often feel like they have been fighting a battle for a long time, and they are tired. They start thinking it might be easier to just stop fighting. Or, they feel like a burden on others. Some simply want the world to stop for a while so they can figure out the next best move after a traumatic event, such as a break up or the death of a loved one. Health issues can also bring on suicidal thoughts. It’s good to know that, when people get the support they need to manage their mental health issues of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse, they can once again start engaging in life in a positive way.
Suicide can be brought on for a number of reasons. Prolonged stress can contribute — such as stress caused by harassment, bullying, unemployment, chronic pain, or relationship problems — as can stressful life events, including divorce, loss, rejection, and financial crisis, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In addition, those who have attempted suicide in the past, who have a family history of suicide, or who experienced abuse, neglect, or trauma in their lives are also at a higher risk. Keep in mind, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so youth are especially vulnerable.
If you hear someone talking as if they are ready to give up, it’s time to have an honest conversation. Ask to talk with them in private so they can explain what is going on, and let them know you really care. Listen to what they have to say.
If you strongly suspect suicide, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. If so, encourage them to seek treatment. Try not to give advice, minimize their concerns, or try to sell them on living. Mostly, they need to know someone cares and receive encouragement to get help. If the concern is immediate, stay with them. If guns are accessible in their home, ask if you can keep them until they are safe or take the key to the gun cabinet. Sit with them while they call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), or take them to a nearby mental health provider or the Memorial Regional Health emergency room. The suicide prevention lifeline is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
Did you know that, locally, the Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide organization provides suicide support to residents in the Yampa Valley? The group has suicide prevention advocates and offers free counseling to youth and adults, thanks to generous grants. To learn more, visit steamboatsuicideprevention.com, call 970-819-2232, or email email@example.com.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.