September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is commonly the result of mental health conditions that impact people when they are most vulnerable, and can affect anybody regardless of age, gender, or background. Friends and families are obviously affected as well, experiencing shame or stigma that prevents the open discussion of the issues.
The goal for this September is to spread awareness and knowledge in the interest of suicide prevention. The following are a few tips.
Recognize the early signs
Ideation—threats or comments about self-harm—can range from casual, self-deprecating remarks to outright dangerous claims
Increased drug and alcohol use
Withdrawal from community and friends
Reckless or impulsive behavior
Understand prevention measures
Remove access to weapons, knives, and medications that could pose a danger
Talk openly and honestly with the at-risk loved one
Ask what you can do to help
Don’t argue, threaten, or raise your voice
Provide ongoing support
Let your loved one know he/she can talk to you about what he/she is going through
Don’t make it an argument—even if negative comments are made—try to provide positive support
Active listening techniques will make your loved one feel validated—reflect feelings and summarize thoughts
Reassure your loved one that you are concerned for his/her well being and encourage him/her to lean on you for support
The prevention of suicide requires a continuing campaign of awareness, understanding, compassion, and a willingness to participate actively in its cause. Understanding some of the basics and promoting awareness of the issue will contribute strongly to the cause of suicide prevention.