Content Warning: Suicide
Words fall short in many situations, and for those impacted by suicide in any way, this rings exceptionally true.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a time to spread information and awareness about how to help ourselves and those around us who may be struggling with suicidal ideation.
Importantly, this month brings resources and conversations to the forefront for people who may not have access to mental health care or support.
Below, we will look at some key components of everyday suicide prevention.
Suicide is not a dirty word, and talking openly about it is vital in ensuring everyone can recognize warning signs in themselves and others.
Here are just some of these warning signs of suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
- Withdrawing from things they usually do
- Isolating from their family and friends
- Sleeping either a lot or not enough
- Giving away items they deeply value
- Showing signs of depression, irritability, anxiety, shame, and anger
- Talking about feeling trapped and or hopeless and being a burden
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please speak to someone in your life whom you trust or call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Methods of Prevention
A significant component of suicide prevention is offering knowledge on steps one can take to help someone who they worry is experiencing suicidal ideation.
In 2019, I had the pleasure of attending a QPR Gatekeeper Certification course at my University. It greatly impacted my life and how I viewed my role in suicide prevention.
Since then, I have found even more incredible methods to prevent suicide. The following are brief overviews of just a few methods one can use when worried about a loved one:
V-A-R by Active Minds
V – Validate how they are feeling
A – Appreciate their courage in coming forward
R – Refer them to appropriate forms of support
LEARN by Forefront Suicide Prevention
L – Look for Signs
E – Empathize and listen
A – Ask directly about suicide
R – Reduce the dangers
N – Next Steps
5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain from #BeThe1To
- Be There
- Help Keep Them Safe
- Help Them Connect
- Follow Up
Methods such as these are just part of suicide prevention. Another large component is encouraging community connectedness, which can come from many avenues.
For instance, groups and organizations that work with suicide prevention and mental health can offer a feeling of togetherness. Finding support through groups of people who may have similar experiences or feelings can be incredibly validating.
Here are just some examples of organizations focused on suicide prevention.
SAVE is a non-profit organization that focuses on educating about suicide prevention, providing peer support programs, offering resources for survivors of suicide attempts and more.
Active Minds is a non-profit organization that strives to educate youth (14-25) about mental health, with a large focus on suicide prevention and awareness.
The Jed Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to educate teens and young adults about mental health and suicide prevention.
Hope for the Day is a non-profit organization that focuses on proactive suicide and mental health crisis prevention through various programs such as their mental health educational programming.
To Write on Her Arms is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention and mental health through a variety of different resources such as financial assistance for therapy and treatment.
The National Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a public-private partnership that works with 250 organizations around the United States to further the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
These are just a few components of suicide prevention, but there are countless, even in small interactions.
Your kindness to others, even in situations perceived as unimportant, can catalyze someone to feel worthy and loved again.
You have likely been the person who gave a stranger hope or made them feel seen when they couldn’t search for a mirror.
Today and all month, I send my love to anyone struggling, grieving a loss, worrying about loved ones, or feeling heavy. I am so proud of you.
Active Minds. (n.d). 3 V.A.R Steps. Active Minds. https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/var/var-steps/
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (n.d). Risk Factors, protective factors, and warning signs. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. https://afsp.org/risk-factors-protective-factors-and-warning-signs/
BeThe1To. (n.d). How the 5 Steps Can Help. BeThe1To. https://www.bethe1to.com/bethe1to-steps-evidence/
Forefront Suicide Prevention. (n.d) Forefront Suicide Prevention LEARN® Skills. Forefront Suicide Prevention. https://afsp.org/risk-factors-protective-factors-and-warning-signs/