Talking About Hope: Suicide Prevention and Education

Suicide is a public health issue that impacts every demographic. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States; each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide. Suicide is a complex phenomenon – that is to say, there is no single cause. Rather, suicide is the result of a number of interrelated factors. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition.” Among the mental health disorders associated with suicide, depression is the most common.

Perhaps the single most important message to convey about suicide is that it is preventable. In most cases, those who attempt or complete suicide exhibit warning signs.

Warning Signs of Suicide

(from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

  • Talking about being a burden to others, feeling trapped, experiencing unbearable pain, having no reason to live, and/or killing oneself
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as researching methods online
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Moods characterized by depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, humiliation, and/or anxiety

If you are having thoughts of suicide, it is important that you reach out for support. Do not keep these thoughts and feelings to yourself. Confide in a parent, spouse, friend, professor, counselor, advisor, etc.

Additional resources include:

  • Calling the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or texting TALK to 741-741
  • Calling 911 if you are in immediate danger
  • Going to your local emergency room
  • Seeking help from a medical or mental health professional, including CSM Counseling Services

If someone you know shows warning signs of suicide:

  • Do not leave them alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in an attempt
  • Do not agree to keep their suicidal plans a secret
  • Do not be judgmental – instead, listen and support
  • Actively connect them with the resources listed above

Each of us has a role to play in preventing suicide. Being vigilant for signs of distress in ourselves and others, as well as maintaining open communication about suicide and mental health concerns, are things that we can all do.