Suicide deaths have increased by 24% in the United States over the last 15 years causing concern and
public health issues. Typically, a person experiencing suicidal ideation with intent are dealing with multifaceted issues. The highest suicide rates in the United States are among white males, American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Other Americans with higher than average rates of suicide are veterans, people who live in rural areas, substance abusers, the mentally ill and young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have a higher rate of suicidal ideation and behavior.
Many individuals experiencing suicidal ideation or behavior are fearful of seeking help due to the stigma associated with being labeled by peers, co-workers, family and society. These individuals require suicide prevention resources to and we must work diligently to eliminate the stigma associated with suicide to reduce the suicide rate nationally.
Individuals with suicidal ideation and behaviors don’t actually want to die; they want to end their pain
and suffering. We can help to save lives by learning some “truths” about suicide.
|A person that talks about suicide is not really suicidal.||Many people that have died from suicide did talk about suicide prior to their death. An individual that speaks of suicide should always be taken seriously.|
|A person attempting suicide is just seeking attention.||A person attempting suicide deserves attention; it is a cry for help. A person that has previous attempts is more likely to die by suicide.|
|If I talk about suicide, it will encourage that person to follow through with suicide.||Talking about suicide reduces stigma and allows individuals to seek help, rethink their options and share their story. Talking about suicide can make a positive impact on their life.|
|A previously suicidal individual that is feeling better is no longer a risk to self.||Although a previously suicidal person is showing signs of improvement doesn’t mean they are no longer suicidal. They may have made planned their death and are still consider to be at risk.|
|Nothing can change the mind of a suicidal individual.||Suicidal thoughts are not permanent and can dissipate with help and support to end internal pain and suffering.|
There are common risk factors associated with suicidal ideation and intent. Risk factors are considered
to be early warning signs. Being able to recognize these warning signs will help to prevent a crisis or
potential harm by getting an individual help needed.
- Mental disorders or family history of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or
schizophrenia. Stigma associated with receiving help. Stopping therapy or medication.
- Substance abuse such as experimenting with alcohol, marijuana, pills consisting of upper and
downers, other drugs. Access to lethal weapons.
- Barriers accessing mental health care usually associated with cost or transportation. Campus
students have access to the Counseling Center.
- Previous suicide attempt(s). Family history of suicide.
- Bullying in person, cyber bullying or social media bullying.
- Job or financial loss for individual or family.
- History of self-harm such a cutting, burning, scarring, pinching, carving and piercing.
- History of trauma, abuse, domestic violence.
- Lack of social support, isolation, withdrawal and/or alienation.
- Relational or social issues. Identity conflict such as LGBTQ.
The difference of death and life can also be identified through warning signs. Warning signs can mean
an immediate threat to harm self. Warning signs should never be ignored.
- Agitated state, mood swings, personality changes.
- An increased fixation on death such as seeking lethal means, violent behavior, signs of selfmutilation/self-harm. Looking for a way to kill self. Stating no reason to live.
- Giving personal property away that has significance or meaning.
- Increase use in substances like drugs and alcohol.
- Engaging in dangerous, risky behavior such as driving under the influence, taking unnecessary
- Change in social behavior. Isolation, withdrawal, sleeping too much or too little, change in
eating habits, failing grades.
- Feeling trapped, hopeless, helpless, anxious, feel like a burden, unbearable emotional pain.
If these warning signs are observable, take action immediately and get that individual help. For an
immediate medical emergency call 911. You may refer to the Counseling Center, call the University
Police or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Helping Others[table responsive=”no” alternate=”yes” fixed=”no”]
|Although it’s not easy, all signs of suicidal behavior should be taken seriously. You can help by talking to the individual. Be attentive and courteous. Make eye contact and show empathy. Seek to understand things from the other person’s perspective.|
|Don’t be argumentative or confrontational. This is not the time to clarify the value of life as this person deeply feels death is the only option to end emotional pain and suffering. Sometimes a person just needs to be heard. Keep opinions to self.|
|Avoid being sworn to secrecy. When a suicidal person requires professional help, confidentiality can’t be maintained.|
|Be direct and calm. Ask questions about being suicidal and offer unconditional support and encouragement. “I’m concerned and want to know how you are doing.” “Are you planning on hurting yourself?” “Are you suicidal?” “I’m here for you. You’re not alone.” You can’t fix someone else’s problems. Seek the help of a professional.|
|Never leave the person alone and avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation. If you are unable to stay with the person, ask someone else you trust to stay with them until help arrives.|