2017-09-07 / Community

September is National Suicide Awareness Month

Submitted by Ruth Schwendinger, BA
Prevention Specialist, Huron Behavioral Health

If you will, I’d like to talk to you about something that scares most of us. I want to talk about it, not to scare you but because if we can shine a little light of understanding - the scariness doesn’t seem so bad. I want to discuss what it might look like when someone is thinking of suicide. I want to recognize the signs in our neighbors, friends, family members and even in ourselves and know what to do about it. Just because someone feels hopeless doesn’t mean they are thinking of suicide, and not all suicides are related to depression. An increasing number of deaths by suicide are related to anxiety or stress combined with opportunity. White men between the ages of 25 and 54 are dying by suicide at rates increasing faster than any other group. There were over a million reported suicide attempts last year and over 10 million Americans reported serious thoughts of suicide. It is scary and is not going to get better unless we watch for the signs and be vigilant.

You might notice changes in eating or sleeping habits, higher anxiety or if the person you are concerned about is increasingly withdrawing from everything. Another sign that someone may be considering suicide is if someone suddenly acts as if they are at peace, talks like they are saying goodbye, and is giving away their possessions. They may have made plans and are feeling relieved. If you see suicidal means (ropes, guns, stock piles of pills), if the person you are concerned about repeatedly talks about these things or doodles them on notes, it is time to speak-up. If you discover cut marks, burns, bruises, stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t accuse them, instead straightforwardly ask, “Have you been thinking about killing yourself?” Make eye contact and give them time to frame a response. It is important that you don’t interrupt, just listen. If they say, “No,” let them know you are concerned and why but don’t overreact. Stay calm and they will feel safe talking to you. If you think a person is considering suicide, it is okay to ask if they have a plan, this will not put the idea in their head and will most likely help them feel better about talking about their thoughts and feelings. If they are not sure or won’t look you in the eye when they respond, remind them that they are important to you and DON’T LEAVE THEM ALONE. At any time of the day, anyone can call the emergency numbers 1-800- 273-8255, 1-800-356-5568, or 9-1-1. Professionals at these numbers can help with emergency care, work with you to develop a safety plan, and if necessary, help find a safe place to regain some perspective that includes a future with them in it.

If you have lost someone to suicide, consider joining the Huron County Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Walk for Awareness, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 23rd at the Nature Center, which is located 9 miles East of Caseville.

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