Tuesday, September 10, 2013

World Suicide Prevention Day 2013

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Did you know that in 2010, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 38,364 deaths? That year, someone died by suicide every 13.7 minutes... That same year, 464,995 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior. Together, those harming themselves made an estimated total of more than 650,000 hospital visits related to injuries sustained in one or more separate incidents of self-harm behavior. As this data does not distinguish between suicide intent or self-harm behavior we do not know how many of these were attempted suicides. And we can only imagine the numbers of unreported suicide attempts and self-harm behavior.

But what can we do to change this? How can we reach out to people who feel that their last and only hope is to commit suicide?

1. Take them seriously
2. Know the warning signs
3. Approach the person
4. Be direct
5. Listen
6. Be genuine
7. Help them eliminate access
8. Convey hope
9. Help them get help
10. Call 911 in case of emergency

Another important step prior to reaching all of this is being available all along. We as a society have a lot of work left to do to make access to help easier and less stigmatized. As long as people refuse to seek help because they are worried how society, friends and family will perceive them for admitting to being depressed, feeling hopeless and being at the end of their rope we will continue to see people making the decision to commit suicide. As long as we cannot show people that it is OKAY to ask for help and that it is not a sign of weakness we will continue to not see the number of suicides and suicide attempts decline. As long as we treat people with mental health problems as outsiders and 'less than others' people will be afraid to admit to these problems.

Not until we can start treating Mental Health as a normal part of health and treat those with mental health problems just like we treat people with cancer, diabetes or broken bones will we start to see a difference. Make it your goal to help change the conversation. Make others around you comfortable enough to come to you when they experience difficult times. Take them serious. Know what resources are available and reach out to people who might need you.

If we can do that we can and WILL make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

PsychCentral: What to Do When You Think Someone is Suicidal

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