The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1–800-273-8255) website can be accessed at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/learn/prevention.aspx . This site states that, “Suicide affects us all. Every year, millions of Americans are directly affected by the more than 37,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts made by friends or loved ones. Yet, suicide is preventable.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/ describes suicide prevention as follows: “Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is simple: Reduce factors that increase risk (i.e. risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.”
Risk factors for suicide may include a previous suicide attempt, a history of mental illness or alcohol/drug use, a family history of suicide, physical illness or feeling alone. There may be several warning signs that someone is thinking about suicide. These may include behavioral changes (e.g., school problems, rebellion against family rules, switching friends, sloppy appearance, lack of involvement in former interests); emotional changes (e.g., mood changes, irritability, defensiveness, ‘nothing matters’ attitude); mental changes (e.g., memory lapses, poor concentration); or physical changes (e.g., low energy). Asking someone directly about their suicidal feelings may help to lower their anxiety level and act as a deterrent. Your openness and concern in asking about suicide may allow the person experiencing pain to talk about his/her problems, and begin to feel less lonely or isolated.
If you suspect that someone you know may be thinking about harming themselves, don’t hesitate to get professional support and help. Call the Lifeways at 541-889-9167 for additional information.