Someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds. By the time you’ve read through this article, three people will have given into the thoughts that said their circumstances were too much to bear and there was only one way out.
What if every person those three people came in contact with had known the signs of suicide risk? What if one person had started a conversation, asked how they were feeling, and offered a listening ear?
Understanding the thoughts and feelings behind ideation is an important first step in preventing suicide. A few signs of suicide ideation include:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Feeling unbearable pain
- Using alcohol or drugs more frequently
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Giving away important possessions
There are also certain risk factors which increase a person’s risk of suicidal thoughts:
- Depression or substance abuse disorder
- Chronic pain
- Family history of suicide
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Recent release from prison or jail
When we’re aware of the risks and signs of suicide, we can step in to prevent it.
While there’s no magic wand to solve mental health issues and remove the risk of suicide, there are ways to support those currently struggling. Let friends and family know you care for them and are always available to talk. When someone does approach you with concerns or heavy feelings, consider the following:
- Empathize with their situation
- Repeat their words back to them and say phrases like, “I can’t imagine how painful this is for you, but I would like to try to understand.”
- Ask about their reasons for suicidal thoughts and divert conversation to reasons for living
- Reassure them they will not feel this way forever, but you will be with them until it ends
- Make a commitment to continue the conversation and follow through
Being an active listener and a responsive companion can make an important impact on another’s mental health.
Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health and suicide. Share your knowledge and experiences with others. Creating awareness and true empathy for people struggling with suicidal ideation is the most important preventative step we can take.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741. Both services are free and available 24/7, and all conversations are confidential.