Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in our nation, the 9th leading cause of death in the State of Florida. Suicide not only rocks a family, but entire schools, work places and the community. The word “suicide” evokes uncomfortable feelings and it’s not a desired conversation over a business lunch, meeting, or the PTA – yet the best way to promote suicide prevention is through education to all people; young and old, rich or poor since suicide has no boundaries.
By becoming educated about suicide and its risk factors, warning signs and protective factors each of us are able to be a contributor in the decline of suicides and identify those in our lives that need help.
Suicide prevention promotes talking about the topic just as we’d talk about any other illness that a family could be experiencing, such as heart problems. Just as there are risk/protective factors and warning signs for a heart attack, they are present for suicide.
|ILLNESS||RISK FACTOR||PROTECTIVE FACTOR||WARNING SIGNS|
|Heart Problems||High Fat Diet||Low Fat Diet & Exercise||Chest Pains|
|Suicide||Access to Lethal Weapons||Healthy Coping Skills||Suicide Threat|
SUICIDE PREVENTION NEEDS TO FOCUS ON DECREASING RISK FACTORS, INCREASING PROTECTIVE FACTORS AND SEEKING IMMEDIATE HELP WHEN WARNING SIGNS ARE PRESENT
|RISK FACTORS||PROTECTIVE FACTORS||WARNING SIGNS|
|Past Suicide Attempt(s)||Healthy Coping Skills||Suicide Thoughts w/Plan and Means to Carry Out|
|Psychiatric Diagnosis||Healthy Support System||Expressions of Dying/Suicide|
|Access to Lethal Weapons||Problem Solving Skills||Putting Affairs in Order|
|Substance Use||Positive Therapeutic Relationship||Saying Goodbye|
|Family History of Suicide||Ability to Ask for Help||Risk Taking Behavior|
|Chronic Physical Illness/Pain||Family Connection/Responsibility||Giving Away Possessions|
|Lack of Social Support System||Children to Care For||Sudden/Unexpected Mood Change|
|Arrest/Incarceration/Shame||Concrete Future Plans|
|Anniversary of Loss/Major Loss||Reasons for Living|
|Depression Symptoms; isolating, hopelessness, sleep difficulties, decline in functioning, persistent sadness, crying, diminished interest/pleasure, weight changes, fatique/loss of energy, poor concentration or focus, indecisiveness|
NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255
Understand that any person who expresses a desire to hurt themselves, at the very minimum, should get help to gain healthy ways of coping with their emotions/stressors.
Never assume it’s only to get attention. The more a person expresses a desire to hurt themselves, the easier it may become to follow through. Suicide occurs when stressors exceed a person’s ability to cope, so it’s important to educate ourselves on what a healthy coping skill is.
When upset – everyone should have an outlet to express their emotions/feelings; loosing yourself in a movie is distracting from your feelings rather than coping with them. If you write in a journal about what you’re experiencing/feeling you are coping, but if you read a good book you’re distracting/avoiding. Drawing a picture that expresses your feelings is coping, whereas looking at beautiful pictures is distracting. Finally, taking your dog for a walk is distracting, while talking to your dog about what you’re feeling while walking is coping.
When does suicidal thoughts become serious?
When to seek help?
CHARLOTTE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
We are grateful to the author – Kim Sanderson, MA, LMHC, manager of Northside Psychiatric Services, a division of Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. May 19th is Suicide Prevention Day as part of National Prevention Week.