Our family has been deeply affected by suicide. Matt and I have 9 children blended together. 3 of them are married and we consider all of them our kids, so we have 12. 11 of them have lost a parent at a young age. 7 children lost their dad to suicide, the other 4 lost their mom to cancer. Yes, loss is a big part of our lives.
September is suicide prevention and awareness month, so I am reminded each year to slow down and consider how I can help. I have researched and studied it for 13 years and found there is always hope and ways that each of us can help prevent suicide. Awareness is the key!
Each year suicide is one of the top 20 leading causes of death globally. There are about 800,000 deaths per year which is more than one every minute. The World Health Organization states 135 people suffer intense grief from one person who takes dies by suicide. The ripples are big and I can testify to that. That makes 108 million people who are impacted per year!
For every suicide, 25 others make a suicide attempt. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls suicide a growing public health problem. They say in 2018, 10 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. This doesn’t include teens! The CDC says suicide is the third leading cause of death in the USA in the ages of 15-19-year-olds.
With Covid-19, the numbers are going up. In June the CDC found 11% of Americans considered suicide in the past 30 days.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Those who are considering suicide do not always voice their thoughts. But you can WATCH FOR THESE WARNING SIGNS:
- searching for ways to kill themselves online
- buying a gun or excessive medication
- increased amounts of drugs, alcohol, sleep
- extreme mood swings
- withdraws from everyone
- being reckless with their life
If they do talk, watch for words such as “no reason to live” and “I’m a burden”. My husband Jay always said, “Nothing ever works for me.” Listen to how they express themselves- is it different than before? TALK TO THEM!
THINGS TO DO:
- Express your feelings. ASK how they are feeling. Research shows people who are having suicidal thoughts feel relief when someone talks to them in a caring way without judgment.
- If they are acting differently, ask questions, and LISTEN carefully.
- Help them create a NETWORK of positive people in their lives. This helps them to feel less hopeless.
- Give your support- keep in contact with them.
- FOLLOW YOUR GUT! If you think something is off, it probably is. Act on what you feel you should do. If you think you should call someone, do it. If you think someone could use a positive compliment, even if you don’t know them, say it.
- Be AWARE of others around you
- BE KIND
If you are having suicidal thoughts:
- Call the NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 1-800-273-8255 for FREE and CONFIDENTIAL support.
- Text 741741 for a live trained crisis counselor