Let’s Talk Suicide Prevention
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, an annual month-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. This September you can become familiar with essential information about suicide risk factors and warning signs. This may help to prevent the loss of life and offer you insight on what to look for.
Suicide Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.*
Suicide Warning Signs
Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. These signs are of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. Pay attention and listen.
If a person talks about:
- Killing themselves
- Feeling hopeless
- Having no reason to live
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Unbearable pain
Behaviors that may signal risk, primarily if related to a painful event, loss, or change:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
- Relief/Sudden Improvement
- Mental health conditions
- Substance use problems
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality traits of aggression, mood changes, and poor relationships
- Conduct disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Physical severe health conditions including pain
- Traumatic brain injury
- Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
- Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
- Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
- Exposure to another person’s suicide, or graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has prepared an extremely helpful article Risk Of Suicide now available on their blog.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The Trevor Project
- American School Counselor Association, www.schoolcounselor.org.
Having effective suicide prevention policies is essential to meeting this responsibility. To support schools’ efforts, four leading national organizations – the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and The Trevor Project – have collaborated to update the Model School Policy, a comprehensive guidebook for school administrators and policymakers containing best practices in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention policies for K-12 schools.
- Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally.
- Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
For more information on suicide facts and global statistics by region and country, visit the World Health Organization