In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, according to the US Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
In an attempt to combat this statistic, the government is introducing a national campaign strategy which includes social media and Facebook. Friends can report a suicidal comment that is posted by others to Facebook’s Report Suicidal Content link. The individual who posted the suicidal comment will receive an immediate email from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
The Westchester-Putnam area has experienced several deaths by suicide in recent years, leading to many community forums and discussions.
Youth may be at risk because of depression or other emotional challenges, impulsive behaviors, or alcohol and drug use. Loss, such as the break-up of a relationship, is sometime associated with suicidal thinking or action. Access to firearms and other weapons also increases risk. Recently, bullying has been identified as a risk factor for suicide. Some known risk factors include:
- A diagnosable mental illness, especially depression
- A prior suicide attempt
- A family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
- Having a substance use disorder
- Having been exposed to suicide or having a family history that includes suicide
- A history of family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
It is important to remember that many youth have these risk factors, but are not suicidal. Talking and listening to youth is the way to know is someone is at risk. Asking the question does not cause someone to consider suicide or to attempt suicide.
The following suggestions for talking with someone at risk of suicide are adapted from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and various prevention programs.
- Speak openly and honestly about your concern. Asking someone directly if they are considering suicide often provides relief.
- Be willing to listen with compassion and without judgment. Do not express shock or horror. It is important to listen.
- Do not try to persuade the individual that their situation is ‘not that bad’. You really don’t know what their experience is.
- Do offer to help find support and assistance. Often someone who is considering suicide just cannot see solutions to their problems. That doesn’t mean that solutions don’t exist.
- If you can, accompany the person to an Emergency Room, to a therapist, member of the clergy, or other support who can help.
- Do not promise secrecy.
- Remove means of suicide or separate the person from the means if you can do so safely. Do not put yourself in danger.
- After you’ve helped the individual connect with someone who can help, if possible, check in with them, remain involved and supportive.
People who are considering suicide have often experienced a serious loss in their lives, or are living with stresses that they feel they can not tolerate any longer. While each person’s path toward considering suicide is unique, someone thinking of suicide may be thinking or feeling in any these ways:
- Problem has no solution- there is no way out
- There is no future
- Feel worthless
- Feel others would be better off without them
- Can’t stop the pain
- Can’t make the sadness go away
- Can’t think clearly or make decisions
- Can’t sleep, eat or work
- Can’t seem to get control
- Can’t talk about it
If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
For more information on how to keep your kids safe, please visit www.AllianceforSafeKids.org.