The month of September is Suicide Prevention Month and September 9-15 is nationally recognized as Suicide Prevention Week. This past year, The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester adopted a Suicide Prevention model and many initiatives are in place to help prevent and minimize future deaths by suicide in our communities.
In New Hampshire, the statistics are staggering as suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals 15 – 34, 3rd leading cause of death for ages 35-44 and 4th leading for ages 45-54. Death by suicide in New Hampshire claims a life every 36 hours.
Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life.
Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention and have informed resources which are now readily available.
People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy.
Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address, accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act. Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it.
We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.
The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.
- Take a minute to notice what is
going on with you, your family, your
friends and your colleagues.
- Take a minute to reach out and
start a conversation if you notice
something is different.
- Take a minute to find out what
help is available for both you and
Know the risk factors and warning signs and seek the help of professionals. The warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
- Looking for a way to kill oneself;
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
- Talking about being a burden to others;
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
- Sleeping too little or too much;
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or shows warning signs call Mobile Crisis Response Team at (800) 688-3544.