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Suicide Awareness and Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

We use this month to raise awareness, reach out to those affected by suicide and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to appropriate treatment services.


This is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly stigmatized topic. It is important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. The feelings of shame and stigma associated with suicide may prevent people from talking openly. However, it is essential to note that having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.


While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic. The truth of the matter is we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide. Just one conversation can change a life.

 

The following provides various data and information about the statistics, warning signs, risk factors, and prevention tips for suicide. It also includes various crisis resources to utilize if needed.


Statistics

  • According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide each year, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S., and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24
  • Firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides


Warning Signs

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing, or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in
    behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This can be concerning if the new or
    changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take
    their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they
    do


Risk Factors

  • Mental Illness. According the National Alliance on Mental Illness, research has found
    that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness
  • A family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate
    suicidal thoughts
  • Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be
    currently under the influence
  • Access to firearms
  • A serious or chronic medical illness
  • Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more
    likely to die by suicide
  • A history of trauma or abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Isolation
  • Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at higher risk for suicide
  • A recent tragedy or loss
  • Agitation or sleep deprivation
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide


Prevention Tips

  • It can be frightening and intimidating when a loved one reveals or shows signs of suicidal
    thoughts. However, not taking thoughts of suicide seriously can have a devastating
    outcome. If you think your friend or family member will hurt themselves or someone
    else, call 911 immediately
  • Mental health professional are trained to help a person understand their feelings and can
    improve mental wellness and resiliency. They can provide effective ways to help
  • Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy,
    can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize unhealthy patterns of thinking and
    behavior, validate troubling feelings, and learn coping skills
  • According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are many small
    studies of various interventions, including promising short-term therapies that include the
    family, have also proven to be beneficial
  • Medication can be used if necessary to treat underlying depression and anxiety and can
    lower a person’s risk of hurting themselves. Depending on the person’s mental health
    diagnosis, other medications can be used to alleviate symptoms
  • Be Educated. One of the best things you can do if you know or suspect that your loved
    one is contemplating suicide is to educate yourself. Learning about suicide, what the
    warning signs are, and how it can be prevented can help you understand what you need to
    do as a member of their support system
  • Remove means such as guns, knives, or stockpiled pills
  • Talk openly and honestly about suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National
    Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be
    connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line

 

Resources


National Alliance on Mental Illness
https://www.nami.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
https://afsp.org/

 


Dr. Adam Share
Athans and Associates
Behavioral Health Care Consultants
32 Main Street, Park Ridge, IL 60068
www.Athansandassociates.net
(847) 823-4444

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