5 Lifesaving Tips For Suicide Awareness and Prevention
The holidays can be a time of increased suicide. Read our guide to learn how you can help your loved ones and get in touch with the suicide awareness hotline.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, more than 48,000 Americans take their own life each year. Roughly 1.4 million people attempt suicide.
The holiday season places an additional burden on those contemplating suicide. Feelings of loneliness and regret tend to worsen their state of mind.
The coronavirus pandemic is also adding fresh stress and feelings of hardship this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Due to restrictions on public gatherings, the most vulnerable are feeling more isolated than ever.
Read on for five lifesaving tips for suicide awareness and prevention. Explore how you can get a loved one in touch with a suicide awareness hotline.
1. Spot the Signs
The first step in the process is spotting the signs of a suicidal thinker. This is not easy as humans naturally progress through a range of emotions. It is not abnormal to see a loved one become angry or sad.
However, these negative feelings are problematic when they are chronic. Here, the person you are concerned with always seems sad or frequently has angry outbursts.
In some cases, this person withdraws from social situations. They are avoiding family events and refuse to go out with friends.
Sometimes, suicidal thinkers will verbalize their demons. They will express hopelessness or even make concerning comments like, “I would be better off dead.” You should always take these types of comments seriously.
Sleep issues may also preclude suicidal thoughts. Drastic changes in appearance are also indicative of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Lastly, look out for overt actions that signal something is wrong. Perhaps there is a sudden interest in buying a firearm. Another example is that this person writes a will or starts making odd arrangements.
Drug use is correlated to suicidal thoughts. Pay close attention to drug abuse and consider buying a meth test kit to check for residual drugs.
2. Talk to Your Loved Ones
You cannot gauge your loved one’s mental state without talking to them. Holding an earnest conversation with a vulnerable person is the key to assessing their well-being.
While this conversation may start with a question, the most important advice is to be a good listener. Vulnerable people are not looking for a lecture on what they need to do. Instead, some just need a person to listen to their problems.
It is also important to show empathy and understanding of their feelings. Making comments, such as “you should not feel that way,” are not helpful.
Experts recommend using an active listening approach. This means that when you do respond it involves repeating the concerns and feelings that they expressed.
3. Take Training
There is suicide awareness and prevention training that can help save lives during the holidays. State and local governments are recognizing the stress that the pandemic and holidays are putting on the mentally vulnerable. For this reason, governments are funding suicide awareness and prevention training.
These training programs teach students, teachers, and parents on how to identify the signs of social isolation and depression. They provide instruction on how to communicate with someone who is suicidal.
Perhaps most important is that these training programs steer people to suicide prevention organizations. The goal is to get people that are considering taking their own life to contact a suicide awareness hotline.
4. Get Help
Now that you are trained and ready to spot the signs of suicide, it is time to get help. Your loved one may not overcome this difficult chapter of their life without some professional help.
Calling the suicide awareness hotline puts your loved one in contact with a robust support system. For starters, it is important to know that calling the suicide hotline is free and confidential. The professionals who support this network are not going to share your personal information.
Military veterans get routed to another support system created by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
There are 161 crisis centers across the United States. The national hotline forwards your call to the nearest crisis center. The thought process is that local crisis centers are best equipped to handle suicide prevention.
Ultimately, you end up on the phone with a trained hotline operator. Some are medical professionals, while others are merely volunteers. However, every phone operator receives the same training and knows exactly how to handle the phone call.
The goal is to create a safety plan that both the phone operator and the caller agree to. The trained operator is assessing risk during the phone call and working to determine the appropriate outcome.
In high-risk situations, the hotline operator may deploy a crisis counselor to the house. However, they prefer to use a family member or friend that the caller agrees to.
There are rare cases where emergency intervention is necessary. The hotline operator calls local law enforcement to check on the caller and prevent potential suicide.
Of note, the suicide awareness hotline is available to anyone. Friends and family can also call and are provided guidance to help their loved ones. Ultimately, it is better to call a suicide prevention hotline than a crime scene cleanup crew.
5. Follow Up and Stay Involved
The battle against suicide does not end with a conversation or a phone call. Instead, it requires commitment and a solid support system.
Friends and family should continue to monitor their loved one’s state of mind. Make it a point to frequently ask how they are doing. Also, inquire whether they need anything and pay close attention to their habits.
Suicidal thoughts are similar to drug addiction. Sometimes those demons return and the support system must be able and ready to help fight off those urges.
A Recap of Suicide Awareness and Prevention
There is so much regret in the wake of a suicide. Loved ones are left thinking about what could have been done to prevent it.
Having a conversation with suicidal family or friends goes a long way. This conversation opens the door to them receiving more formal help.
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