Blog of the Month, September: Suicide - by: Hunter Miller & Colleen Donnelly
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
September is known as National Suicide Awareness month. It is important to be aware of a sensitive topic like suicide because there could always be somebody that you know who is contemplating suicide. Many organizations are dedicated to providing information to people who are considering and people who know someone contemplating suicide to prevent them from making that decision. Below we have illustrated fast facts about suicide, warning signs you should look out for, steps to help a friend, and one way you can get involved to combat suicide.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
In 2017, the three highest suicide rated states are Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming
Approximately 45,000 Americans die from suicide each year
There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts
There are several possible warning signs a person may possess when contemplating suicide. While warning signs differ for each individual, some warning signs have been commonly linked to suicide. Some of these warning signs include:
Increased substance use
Distancing yourself from loved ones and peers, especially in social atmospheres
Abnormal changes in mood
Acting out of one’s typical character
Getting rid of sentimental items
Saying goodbye to friends and family, especially in out of context situations
Warning signs were taken from NAMI
5 Steps to Helping a Friend
The following five steps are taken from #BeThe1To, a campaign by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Let your friend know that you are open to talk about suicide by directly asking them if they are contemplating it. However, it is important that you do not promise to keep their thoughts a secret. In addition to being direct, you should actively listen to their thoughts and keep the situation about them, not about your opinions.
2. Keep Them Safe
After determining the problem at hand, it’s important to figure out the extent of their suicidal thoughts. Have they attempted suicide before? Do they have a specific plan on how they would commit suicide? The more steps that they have in place, the more danger they are in. And remember - always trust your gut instinct. If you think that your friend is in immediate danger of suicide, you may want to call emergency services.
3. Be There
If you ever realize that a friend is having suicide thoughts, it is important to be there for them. Listen to their feelings, but never make promises that you won’t be able to keep. Make sure that your friend has someone that they can be connected to, and if you are willing to talk to them, let them know you are there for them.
4. Help Them Connect
Help your friend find resources, like a mental health professional or a support group, they can use if they are in a crisis. Together, you can also develop a plan detailing what they can do, where they can go, and who to contact.
5. Follow Up
Make sure you check in on your friend after your conversation about them contemplating suicide. A simple text or call will make more of a difference than no acknowledgement. Your friend will feel wanted and important, which could help ease their thoughts even more.
How to Help
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
AFSP Greater Philadelphia hosts a 5K walk to fight suicide. Out of the Darkness Greater Philadelphia Walk is on Sunday, October 6th at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Opening Ceremony: 7:30am
Walk starts: 8:30am
Walk ends: 11:00am
If you are interested, you can register here. Registration closes at 12pm on Friday, October 4th. For more information, please contact Sarah Brooks Hart at 215-907-0088 or Philadelphia@afsp.org.