September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time we look at this relatively taboo topic. Talking about suicide reduces the stigma surrounding suicide and suicide attempts, which can help those experiencing these feelings realize that they are not alone, and that other people care.
Unfortunately, suicidal ideation is usually a result of undiagnosed mental illness; which means with intervention from loving family, friends, and coworkers, many suicides can be prevented. Here are a few facts about suicide prevention, what to look for, and how to help.
Facts About Suicide
- One person dies from suicide every 40 seconds worldwide.1
- Nearly half of the individuals who admit to having suicidal thoughts are lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students.2
- Men ages 85 and older have the highest rate in the country.3
- More than 90% of people who attempt suicide and survive never go on to die by suicide.3
- In 2020, firearms accounted for 52.83% of all suicide deaths.4
Warning Signs of Suicide
Individuals who are thinking about suicide may exhibit these warning signs, including:5
- Losing interest in school, work, or hobbies.
- Taking unnecessary risks.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Having trouble eating and sleeping.
- Preparing for death by writing a will.
Several factors can play a role in whether an individual could have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. Some of these include:6
- A family history of suicide or child mistreatment.
- Mental illness, especially clinical depression.
- Alcohol or drug overuse.
- Physical illness.
Use a mnemonic device to remember the warning signs: IS PATH WARM: Ideation, Substance Abuse, Purposelessness, Anxiety, Trapped, Hopelessness, Withdrawal, Anger, Recklessness, Mood changes.7
How to Help
Suicide warning signs can be subtle, so it’s helpful to look at warning signs and risk factors together, as well as the protective factors that could be in place to prevent suicide. Protective factors include:
- Effective and accessible mental health care.
- Support groups.
- Regular connections with various individuals—family, coworkers, friends, and faith community members.
- Resilience and problem-solving skills.
As a coworker, parent, or friend, you are an essential part of protective factors for suicide prevention. You’re likely to know details of their personal life, experience the warning signs, and be able to help them find easily accessible help and encourage follow-up care. Utilizing your EAP is a great place to start, and you can also find support for prevention through the newly-launched National Suicide Hotline—call or text 988 to get immediate help for anyone at risk for suicide.
Other resources include these helpful blogs and articles:
- NAMI blog: Talk to your Teen about Suicide
- NAMI blog: My Case for Using and Respecting Trigger Warnings
- 988 Suicide Hotline: Learn how we can all help
- Uprise Health Blog: How the 988 system works
- Uprise Health Blog: Faking it online
- MedCity News: New 988 hotline exposes need for better mental healthcare infrastructure
Together, we can shine a light on suicide and give our loved ones, family, and coworkers hope that life is worth living. If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to call or text 988 to access a team of mental health professionals 24 hours a day.
Members: visit your member portal to discover more resources and information about suicide.