Suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care how old you are, what ethnicity you are or your gender. Suicide doesn’t even care if you’re rich and famous, as evidenced by celebrities such as Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that more than 47,000 Americans took their own lives in 2017, and another estimated 1.4 million people attempted suicide. And these are just the reported numbers. The stigma surrounding suicide surely means it’s underreported, so the numbers are likely even higher.
Suicide Rates on the Rise
As suicide rates continue to rise each year, it’s possible that we all know someone who is suicidal. Here are a few tips that may help if you think someone is considering suicide:
Know the warning signs. If someone is talking about wanting to die, that’s a huge red flag. They may also express feelings of hopelessness or say they have no reason to live. People who are exhibiting extreme mood swings or reckless behavior may also be at risk.
Ask questions. Yes, some of your queries might seem sensitive and difficult to ask, but you can’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings when you’re concerned about their life. Ask questions like:
- “How are you coping with what’s happening in your life?”
- “Have you thought about hurting yourself?”
- “Do you have access to weapons?”
Stress, Depression or Anxiety?
Professionals can help if you feeling like you’re drowning in your busy life. With a wide range of symptoms, providers can diagnose and treat your depression.
Offer unconditional support. Let them know you’re worried and you think they need help. Don’t make judgmental or patronizing comments like “Things could be worse” or “You have a lot to live for.” Give them the number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and stay with them while they call. If they’re willing to talk to a mental health professional, offer to drive them there. You can even offer to do some research for them to find a counselor and/or a support group.
If they’re unwilling to seek help, take action. Suicidal thoughts are an emergency. You’re not overreacting. Call the suicide hotline yourself – or even 911– and get other friends and family involved right away. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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