September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day. Established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health, World Suicide Prevention Day is a time for directed focus towards change. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800,000 people die from suicide every year. Although disheartening, there is still hope for change. In order to honor this observance, we’ll be sharing some advice we believe can be helpful in bringing about that change and hope.
1. Understand the risk factors
In order to bring about change in suicide prevention, it is important to understand the risk factors associated with suicide. Some examples of risk factors include social isolation, legal/financial burdens, serious physical/mental illness, substance use, relationship loss, low or middle income, and coming from backgrounds that stigmatize help-seeking. Keeping these risk factors in mind can make all the difference in recognizing someone who needs help.
2. Pay attention to warning signs
Paying attention to the actions and words of those around you is a great indicator to gauge if someone is in danger. In terms of words, if you notice someone speaking about feeling like a burden or that they have no reason to live then its time to act. Additionally, noticing someone has become reliant on substances, withdrawing themselves from activities, not getting enough sleep, and are actively looking for ways to end their lives are also signs. In recognizing these warning signs, you can effectively identify who is struggling based on their behavior.
3. Establish protective factors
Having identified that you or someone else is struggling with suicidal thoughts is the first step in bringing about change. The next step is to establish protective factors that ensure safety and wellbeing. Some protective factors to help ease the burden of suicidal thoughts include being proactive about mental health, developing problem solving skills, limiting access to drugs and weapons, and building a strong sense of self. Although difficult if you don’t already have a foundation in them, putting in the time and care to ensure they are strong can make all the difference in upkeeping mental wellbeing.
4. Reach out for support
Lastly, never be ashamed to reach out for support. Regardless of who we are and what we’ve been through, everyone deserves to feel supported and loved. If you haven’t felt this way lately, then it’s time to reach out for help. By connecting and spending time with loved ones, it becomes easier to process difficult feelings and to see the light in living. If you’re someone who might need additional support from a professional, then it’s important that you honor that need and speak to a professional who can help you out.
In raising awareness on this special observance and everyday following, we can help put a stop to this. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, reach out to the right places for help. For more information and resources to get help, visit https://afsp.org/ or call 988 for the Crisis Hotline.