September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Dorothy Hamm will provide information and resources on how we can prevent suicide from occurring within our community. Many people may not realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school-aged students, as reported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Suicide is preventable. Four out of five teens who attempted to end their lives have given clear warning signs to those around them in hopes of intervention. That means that in eighty percent of cases, we have an opportunity to save a young person’s life.
There are signs you can watch for and there are also preventable activities you can begin with.
Where do I begin?
Model the mental health behavior you want to see in your kids: You may wish to share examples of how you are taking care of your own mental health, such as exercising, talking to someone, asking for help, speaking honestly about your emotions, or doing something you enjoy.
Break down barriers and stigmas by talking bluntly about mental health: A straightforward conversation about being okay to not always feel okay can help remove barriers in the future and provide an invitation for future conversations.
What are possible signs of someone contemplating suicide?
Depression: Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness; behaviors or comments that indicate overwhelming feelings of sadness or pessimistic views of their future.
“Masked” Depression: While your child or another individual may not act “depressed,” their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety. This may include acts of aggression, gun-play and alcohol & substance abuse.
Inability to concentrate or think clearly: Such problems may be reflected in classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores and even in conversation. If your child starts getting poor grades, acting up in class, forgetting or poorly performing chores around the house, or talking in a way that suggests they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.
What do I say to my child, friend, or loved one?
The most important thing someone can do is talk about it with the individual who may be showing signs of being suicidal. Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of the individual taking his or her own life. How you ask the question is less important than that you ask for it:
Don’t ask the question – “You’re not suicidal are you?”
Ask directly – “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
Talk to the person alone in a private setting.
Suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.
Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.
Offer help in any form.
Then ask, “Will you go with me to get help?” or “Will you let me help you?”
Ask, “Will you promise not to kill yourself while I find some help?”
Where do I go for help?
Once you’ve had the conversation with your child, friend, or loved one, there are suicide hotlines and resources where you can go to get help: Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-844-493-2855 or text “TALK” to 38255.