Suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 lives lost in 2016, and the numbers are rising in nearly every state across the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies report that one out of two people knows someone who has died from suicide. And for every one person who has died from suicide, another 280 other people have seriously thought about it. Risk factors for suicide include a history of suicide attempts, a history of self-harm, mood disorders, stress and unemployment.
Other warning signs include a change in personality, poor performance at work or school and a sudden switch from very sad to calm/peaceful. If you know someone who is at risk for suicide, it can be difficult to know what to do or say. Here are some ways to help.
One of the best ways to help a loved one and show that you care is to be available and listen to their concerns. Simply listen without judgment or assumption.
“It is important to pay attention to how those in our lives are doing. Try to look for signs of hopelessness, worthlessness or isolation in those around you. Take statements like ‘Maybe everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around …’ or ‘I’m not sure how much longer I can take this …’ seriously, and be there to listen,” said Becky Stoll, vice president for crisis and disaster management at Centerstone.
After listening to their concerns, it’s okay to follow up with clarifying questions to try and uncover any signs or symptoms. Jennifer Armstrong, Centerstone’s vice president of customer engagement operations, helps oversee the crisis lines and agrees that follow-up questions are important. “Don’t let the fear of ‘what if’ stop you from asking a loved one if he or she is thinking about suicide. Be direct, without lecturing, and talk openly and freely about suicide and listen to their response.”
If you know someone who is thinking about suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to remove any means that you think may aid a suicide attempt and contact the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Helpline at (800) 273-8255. Centerstone’s 24-hour crisis line is 1-(800) 681-7444.
When someone loses hope, they can’t see a way out, but hope can be found with help and support. For more resources, visit our website.