In early September, mental health advocates and organizations come together to take part in National Suicide Prevention Week. Beginning on September 6th, the week runs through September 12th and encompasses World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. During the week, individuals can learn about suicide prevention measures and work to prevent suicide in their communities.
In the spirit of National Suicide Prevention Week, we use the article below to help raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention measures. We detail the causes of suicide and ways to identify when a person is at risk of suicide. We also share ways to help an at-risk person and raise awareness of suicide prevention via social media. Lastly, we detail how at-risk individuals can access mental health treatment to improve their well-being.
Causes of suicide and when a person is at risk
Suicide occurs when an individual feels overwhelmed by challenges in their life, which can include stress, mental health conditions, and trauma. The individual becomes desperate for a change in their life, and they incorrectly think that suicide is the only way out of their current situation. The central message of National Suicide Prevention Week is that suicide is preventable, and one of the main ways to prevent suicide is by helping at-risk individuals manage their challenges and realize hope for the future.
If a person in your life is at risk of suicide, you may notice sudden changes in the person’s behavior. These changes can serve as warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide and include the following behaviors:
- The person starts engaging in reckless behavior that demonstrates a disregard for their life and well-being. This behavior can include driving under the influence, substance abuse, and unsafe sex.
- The person starts to isolate themselves from their peers and family. The person may seem to stop enjoying their favorite hobbies.
- The person may exhibit increased irritability, mood swings, and unexplained changes to their sleeping and eating patterns.
When determining if a person is at risk of suicide, you can also consider if the person has common risk factors for suicide. Risk factors for suicide include financial hardship or significant legal troubles, a family history of suicide, knowing someone who died by suicide, a history of trauma, or a recent loss of a spouse or job. While warning signs and risk factors of suicide do not alone confirm that a person is at risk of suicide, they are useful tools for identifying that a person may need help.
Helping a person who is at risk of suicide
If someone you know may be at risk of suicide, there are a few ways you can try to help them and make a positive impact on their life. One way to help the person is by referring them to free resources for at-risk individuals, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 support to at-risk individuals over the phone. When an at-risk person calls the lifeline at +1 (800) 273-8255, the person can talk to a trained professional who will listen to their difficulties and guide the at-risk individual on how to remain safe.
Another way to help an individual who is at risk of suicide is to use the five steps from the #BeThe1To campaign to engage with them. The five steps use research-backed methods for suicide prevention and serve as a useful blueprint. The #BeThe1To campaign’s five steps are: (1) ask, (2) be there, (3) keep them safe, (4) help them connect, and (5) follow up. By engaging with an at-risk individual, your support and care may inspire hope and help the individual change their outlook for the better.
Raising awareness of suicide prevention on social media
Participation in National Suicide Prevention Week can occur virtually, and a person who wants to help prevent suicide does not necessarily have to know an at-risk individual. One simple yet effective way to participate is by taking part in a suicide prevention social media campaign. You can download suicide prevention images and graphics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and share the content with your friends and followers. Your participation on social media can help spread the word on suicide prevention efforts, and it can help at-risk individuals realize that help is available.
How Vista del Mar Hospital can help prevent suicide
Helping people who suffer from mental health conditions receive the treatment they need is key for suicide prevention. Without proper treatment, mental health conditions often worsen to the point where the individual feels hopeless and cannot manage their mental health. In such situations, the person is at a heightened risk of suicide.
At Vista del Mar Hospital, we understand the relationship between mental health and suicide, and we know that mental health treatment is critical for suicide prevention. At our hospital, we provide several outpatient mental health programs and inpatient treatment programs for adults and adolescents. We also offer mental health treatment for adolescents. We also have a suicide prevention initiative running through September.
To improve your mental health or the mental health of an at-risk individual you know, call Vista del Mar Hospital at (805) 653-6434. A member of our team can help you book a free mental health assessment and answer any questions that you may have.