National Suicide Prevention Week – What Can You Do to Help?
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) declared this year’s Suicide Prevention Week theme “The Power of Connection.”
In 2018, Suicide Prevention Week runs from September 9 to 15.
Sadly, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),is on the rise in nearly every state in the country.
“Although there is no single cause of suicide, one of the risks for suicide is social isolation, and there’s scientific evidence for reducing suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another. We can all play a role through the power of connection…” writes the AFSP on their website.
National Suicide Prevention Week was founded in 1975 and is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to raise awareness around these issues through a series of events, corresponding with World Suicide Prevention Day, held on September 10.
Rates of Suicide Statistics Nationally and Globally
- An estimated 45,000 Americans, aged 10 and older died as a result of suicide in 2016
- Adults between the ages of 45 and 54, according to the AFSP, are at the highest risk of taking their own lives, followed by elderly people 85 and older
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that around 800,000 people around the globe die from suicide every year, for an average of one person every 40 seconds
Mental Health, Addiction and Suicide Prevention
Untreated mental health issues, conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and addiction, can lead people into an emotional spiral.
When an individual is battling something like crippling alcoholism or clinical depression, they often don’t have the strength to ask for, or know where to get help.
Organizations and services like Project Semicolon and Warmlines are available to help those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and tendencies, as well as to those who survived an attempt at suicide or lost a loved one to this tragedy.
However, among the many reasons to promote suicide prevention week is so people can become better informed about the signs that someone might be struggling with an untreated illness.
As cliché as it may sound, even one gesture of concern can be a lifeline to someone contemplating the idea of taking their own life.
Warning Signs a Person Might Be at Risk of Suicide
Paying attention and listening to family members, colleagues and friends is vital. Signs that person is battling dangerous mental health issues or might be a suicide risk can include some of the following:
- Expressing feelings and emotions of hopelessness
- Making statements about how “nobody would miss them if they were gone”
- Talking about feeling an incurable pain
- Acting as if they’re a burden to those around them
- Destructive behavior, such as out-of-control drinking, drug abuse or unprotected sexual activity
- Withdrawing from friends, family and activities they once enjoyed
- Excessive sleeping or being unable to sleep
- Rapid and severe mood swings
- Discussions that they want revenge on something or someone that hurt them
Even if these symptoms are linked to issues other than suicidal thoughts or ideations, they still warrant professional medical attention.
It’s rare that legitimate mental health issues simply dissipate without some counseling or therapy.
While this week is dedicated to “the power of connection,” September is also Suicide Prevention Month.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) offers resources on how community members and civic leaders can raise awareness through events, programs that people can get involved in, and organizations that provide help to people in need.
Suicide is preventable. Reducing the stigma associated with depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health issues can, and will, save lives.
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