9/21/22

Mental Health Moment: Suicide Prevention

with

Mimi H. Wright, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Mental Health Moment: Suicide Prevention

Each year, Suicide Prevention Month drives home the urgency of our mission and of the work done worldwide by you, our healing community. Globally, more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year (World Health Organization). In 2020, 45,900 people died by suicide in the United States alone; an additional 1.2 million U.S. adults attempted suicide, and 12.2 million reported severe thoughts of suicide (National Institute of Mental Health).

Crisis response services are an absolutely vital part of preventing suicide...and suicide prevention is about so much more than the moment of crisis. It's about reducing access to lethal means during times of heightened risk. It's about improving access to quality, evidence-based care well before the point of crisis. It's about destigmatizing mental health problems and our natural physiological and psychological responses to trauma and stress. It's about social support and community connection. It's about justice, equity, and public health. And it's about making sure communities have every tool at their disposal to heal trauma and build resilience—through mind-body and spirit.

Our work has shown us that healing is possible even in the face of despair. This knowledge is a daily source of hope that we can all cultivate when we care for ourselves and others.

Suicide Prevention

Even in our rural area of Texas, suicide is a significant public health concern.  Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable.  Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives!

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. Many different factors contribute to someone making a suicide attempt.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

The behaviors listed below may indicate that someone is contemplating suicide.

Talking about:

  • Wanting to die
  • Great guilt or shame
  • Being a burden to others

Feeling:

  • Empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live
  • Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage
  • Unbearable emotional or physical pain

Changing behavior, such as:

  • Making a plan or researching ways to die
  • Withdrawing from family and friends, saying good bye, giving away important possessions, or making a will
  • Taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Eating or sleeping more or less
  • Using drugs or alcohol more often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy

These warning signs are especially noteworthy in the context of:

  • A recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
  • A recent break-up or conflict with a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parents
  • News reports or family history of other suicides

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, mainly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

Here are five steps you can take to #BeThe1To help someone in emotional pain

Suicide Prevention Graphic - Helping someone in emotional pain


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK


Crisis Text Line

Text “HELLO” to 741741


www.nimh.nih.gov/suicideprevention

Risk Factors

People most at risk tend to share specific characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Chronic pain
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having unsecured guns or other firearms in the home
  • Having recently been released from prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others' suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. It is important to note that suicide is not a normal stress response. Suicidal thoughts or actions are signs of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored.

Often, family and friends are the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can be the first step toward helping an at-risk individual find treatment with someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.

It is always good to reach out for help!

Mimi H. Wright, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

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