Suicide Prevention: Know the Warning Signs and Speak Up
September 15, 2017
Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year and about 18% of those suicides are veterans. In fact, roughly 20 veterans commit suicide every day nationwide. There are multiple reasons why our military heroes take their own lives. The most commonly linked factors: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which fuels alcohol abuse or depression.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Here is some information on spotting the signs and reaching out for help.
Suicide Warning Signs
It’s important to know that people who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. It’s a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Knowing the signs is important because almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Here are some of the warning signs:
- Indirect or direct references to death or suicide. Whether casual, serious, or joking, this is a sign that should not go unnoticed.
- Preoccupation with death.
- Seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt (weapons and/or drugs).
- A family history of suicide.
- The risk for suicide becomes compounded if the person has mood disorder or depression issues.
- Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Getting affairs in order (making a will, giving away possessions, etc.)
- Withdrawing from others.
- Self-destructive behavior.
- Sudden sense of calm and happiness after being depressed can signal that the person has decided to attempt suicide.
Suicide prevention tips
It’s important to reach out and talk to the people you care about if you see any of the above signs. It may seem weird or awkward but it could save their life. Here are some tips:
- Talk to them about your concerns.
- Let them know they are not alone.
- Offer help/support.
- Listen – let them know they can vent to you.
- Take them seriously.
- Do not act shocked, argue with them, or offer ways to fix their problems.
- Offer up resources for professional help or support.
- Encourage positive lifestyle changes (healthy diet, exercise, plenty of sleep, outdoor activities).
- Make a safety plan with steps the person promises to take in the event of a crisis.
- Remove potential means of suicide (pills, knives, razors, or firearms).
Here is a list of resources for times of crisis: