Did you know that suicide is the second most common cause of death in teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19? September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and this topic is more important than ever. The mental health strain from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on people of all ages.
The National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month started through The Jason Foundation. Clark Flatt wanted to honor memories of his son, so he founded the movement to bring awareness about the topic of suicide in our communities. This organization offers resources and training to help people of all ages learn the signs of suicide.
A Silent Epidemic
Suicide is a “silent epidemic” sweeping across the nation. As a result, mental health experts designated this month as a National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month as a way to share information with family, friends, advocates, teachers, and the community. The goal is to reduce the risk of suicide by identifying the early signs of mental health issues.
Not only are teenagers at risk for suicide, but adults are also facing mental health challenges that lead to suicide attempts at times. By educating the public about the risks and signs, we can take a proactive approach to help people access the mental health support they need.
Warning Signs of Suicide
The most important thing you can do to protect your loved ones is watching for the signs of suicide to know when to get help. These warning signs vary depending on the person’s age.
Signs of Suicide: Children Ages 5 – 11
It’s tragic to think about a child taking their own life. Unfortunately, this issue is becoming more common as children are exposed to ideas through online activities and friends. It’s never too early to watch for signs of suicide and talk to young children. Common signs include:
- Relationship problems with friends and family, such as withdrawing from social events
- Behavioral changes affecting eating, sleeping, play, or extracurricular activities
- Bullying from other children
- Experiencing loss due to death or separation from family
- History of suicide attempts in the past
- Decrease in school performance
- Reduced interest in hobbies other activities
- Conversations about death, saying things such as “No one will notice when I’m gone.”
Signs of Suicide: Teenagers
Teenagers often show behavioral or verbal warnings that they are considering suicide. Common signs include:
- Threats of taking their life, such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “ I’m better off dead.”
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
- Decreased interest in friends, hobbies, or sports
- Poor performance in school
- Change in behavior and increase in anger and irritability
- Sudden shifts in appearance
- Appetite fluctuations, resulting in unexplained weight gain or loss
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family.
Signs of Suicide: Adults
Adults of all ages can face challenges that lead to suicide attempts. For adults, the most common warning signs of suicide include:
- Change in moods, such as anxiety, anger, or sadness
- Conversations about being a burden to other people or wanting to die
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Chronic physical or emotional pain
- A sense of being trapped or feeling hopeless about the future
- Making a will and taking care of estate planning
- Giving away money or personal items
- Saying goodbye to loved ones
- Social withdrawal and no longer participating in favorite activities
- Taking dangerous risks, such as using alcohol and drugs or driving recklessly
Everyone Could Be At Risk
The most important thing that families need to know is that no one is immune from the risk of suicide. There isn’t one reason why someone considers or attempts suicide. This problem affects people of all ages, genders, income levels, religions, races, and sexuality.
Often, suicidal thoughts increase due to life stressors and the prevalence of mental health issues. For example, suppose someone is experiencing financial problems, relationship issues, job loss, health challenges, or other big life changes. In that case, it could be a trigger that increases the risk of suicidal thoughts.
Suicide: An Uncomfortable and Important Topic
Suicide prevention awareness is essential because many people are uncomfortable talking about this topic. Even though suicide is increasing in frequency, society at large doesn’t talk about the pervasiveness of this problem.
Having a National Suicide Prevention Awareness month is a way to make the topic of suicide more commonplace in our homes. So many people have been affected by suicide and need to be able to turn to friends and family for support.
How to Help a Loved One
If you notice any of the signs of suicide above, what can you do to help a loved one? The first step is to be there for them and ask a simple question: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” or “Are you having suicidal thoughts?”
The question might seem simple, but it can be the key to saving a person’s life. Asking the question opens the conversation, and a person will often speak up about their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Knowing they aren’t alone is a big step to helping suicidal people get the help they need.
Free Resources for Suicide Prevention
There is a variety of free phone and texting resources available to help people in a time of crisis. When you or a loved one is considering suicide, then access one of these confidential resources for help. Services are available any time – both day and night.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Teen Line (Teen-to-Teen Help Hotline): 310-855-4673
- The Trevor Project Lifeline (LGBTQ Crisis and Suicide Hotline): 866-488-7386
- Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
- La Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Seek Mental Health Support
Our team at Lifeworks Counseling Center is here to offer mental health support for people of all ages. We are sharing information about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month as a way to support the community. Together, we can reach out to those in need and reduce the risk of suicide. In addition, we provide personalized mental health treatments to help people find joy and happiness in life once again.