Almost 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. There’s a particular focus on raising awareness for suicide prevention during September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month. And today, September 10th, holds special importance: It is World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to remember those affected by suicide and to focus our efforts on getting mental health help to those who need it most.
Suicide prevention is especially critical for individuals struggling with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. About 90 percent of them are also dealing with depression and other mood-related disorders, making them more susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Research shows that people with anorexia have the highest rate of completed suicide, while those with bulimia have the highest number of attempts. In fact, the most common cause of death among people with eating disorders is suicide.
Six Steps for Suicide Prevention
With these thoughts in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six steps you can take to help anyone in your life who may be contemplating suicide.
Ask: Asking one simple question may be enough to save a life: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” Research shows that acknowledging and talking about suicide actually reduces suicidal ideation, as it allows an individual to share their feelings and let go of some of the heaviness weighing them down. Some warning signs to consider are listed below, but above all else, trust your instincts. If you’re concerned something is wrong, it probably is. Behavior to look out for includes:
Giving away prized possessions
Withdrawing from loved ones
Increased alcohol or drug use
Making suicide threats or other statements of hopelessness
Prior suicide attempts
Putting final affairs in order
Be There: Although a loved one struggling with thoughts of suicide may retreat and isolate themselves, it’s more important than ever that you make an effort to be there for them. They will feel less depressed and more hopeful after spending time with someone who cares.
Keep Them Safe: If you’re concerned that an individual has access to a life-ending weapon or supply of drugs, take the means away. Studies indicate that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, overall suicide rates frequently decline.
Help Them Stay Connected: It may be harder to stay connected in the time of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important. Help a loved one create a network of resources and people that can offer them support and help keep them safe.
Follow Up: Ongoing contact can make a big difference in suicide prevention efforts. Check in on a regular basis to remind someone that they matter and that you’re here for them.
Learn More: Educate yourself! Talk to a mental health professional to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to help.
Call 911. If you are concerned that your loved one is going to or has done something dangerous or if their life is in danger, please call 911 for help.
#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month. Help spread the word about actions we can each take to promote healing and hope, working together to shift the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention. To contact the National Suicide Hotline call 800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues and/or contemplating suicide, reach out to Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, C.E.D.S. at Coral Reef Counseling and schedule a telehealth conference today.