Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide, a preventable event, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, surpassing the combined total of deaths resulting from homicide and war. According to SAMHSA, “More than 8 million adults in the U.S. had serious thoughts of suicide within the past 12 months.”
Suicide prevention is a theme throughout healthcare, but in behavioral healthcare the obstacle of stigma can add a level of challenge. Many consumers are isolated and ostracized from their peers and relatives, leaving them hesitant or unable to pursue preventative measures. Family members often feel conflicted and confused when trying to determine the distinction between an appropriate level of involvement and interference.
Reminding healthcare providers and educating the general public about warning signs of suicide is a crucial element to any successful prevention strategy. It’s imperative that those who interact regularly with mental health consumers be on the lookout for indicators that the person is at risk for self harm.
Suicide warnings signs include:
- Talking about wanting to die or a desire to harm herself/himself.
- Looking for a way to kill herself/himself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one used to care about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements or setting affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
World Suicide Prevention Day is a reminder that progress toward suicide prevention requires us all to work together with vigilance and awareness. Note the list above and share it with others. Have the difficult discussions with clients and family members. Start a conversation that could prevent another unnecessary loss of life and offer hope to someone who feels hopeless.
Vice President for Access and Crisis Services
Centerstone of Indiana