September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness on this often stigmatized topic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. One of the contributing factors that leads to suicidal thoughts is mental health disorders, particularly depression. Jacqueline Rose, a licensed clinical social worker at Westmed, provides a few tips for suicide prevention and how to support someone you know who is dealing with suicidal thoughts.
1. How to Seek Help if You Are Feeling Suicidal
If you are feeling suicidal, please do not hide yourself and “just wait” for the feelings to go away. We are living in very difficult times, and for many people, there are multiple life stressors that may lead someone to think that everything would be easier if it all just ended. Suicidal ideation (or suicidal thoughts) is nothing to be ashamed of and is far more common than people realize. You have loved ones who would be devastated if you were gone; your absence would leave a huge, and permanent, hole in many peoples’ lives. Please ask for help. It will be worth it and you will be glad you reached out.
2. Take the Time to Listen
If a loved one expresses suicidal thoughts to you, please take the time to stop what you are doing and listen. If someone is expressing suicidal thoughts, he or she needs to be evaluated by a professional. You will need to take the person to the nearest emergency room so they can be checked out by their psychiatry department to assess danger to themselves or to others. If you are not able to take the person to the nearest emergency room, call 911. Asking someone about their mental health doesn’t give them suicidal thoughts. Instead, it may give them a sense of relief that they can freely talk.
3. What NOT to Say to Someone Expressing Suicidal Thoughts
If a person expresses suicidal thoughts to you, do not dismiss them. Do not tell them “it’s not a big deal, why are you upset?” or “you’ll get over this.” Please take the time to treat that person in the same way you would want to be treated if you were feeling that low. You can be the difference in getting them the help they need.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there is support and help available. You can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line – both are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Westmed’s Behavioral Health team also offers treatment and counseling services for children, adolescents and adults in a warm and welcoming environment. Remember, there is no shame in depression. We’re here to help.