Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” – Abraham Lincoln

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

We would like to take this time to bring forth awareness and resources of the 10th leading cause of death

Suicide is the intentional act of taking one’s life.  Research states there are biological, environmental, and emotional factors surrounding suicide or suicidal ideations.  Any combination of these factors can predispose someone to suicide, but does not necessarily indicate they are at risk.  If there is ever concern about suicide, please contact your therapist or medical doctor immediately for an assessment and support; or go to the emergency room.  This article seeks to educate and inform so the general public can watch for warning signs and seek help.

Biological factors can include the presence of mental illness, and imbalances in stress hormones, brain transmitters or enzymes. Environmental factors can include exposure to trauma or a suicide, racism/sexism, bullying, access to lethal means, and transitions (such as summer to fall or vacation to work) or a shorter presence of the sun. Emotional factors include stressful reactions to work, relationships, health concerns or disparities. Persistent and intense feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can also be involved. History of previous suicide attempts, or family history of suicide attempts also create more vulnerability/risk. A key factor is a lack of coping skills to match the level of stressors that one faces. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the presence and combination of these factors has caused suicide to rank as the 10th highest cause of death.

Warning signs can include:

Talking about suicidal thoughts, ideation or plans

Feeling that they are a burden to others

Feeling trapped

Experiencing unbearable pain

Increased use of drugs or alcohol

Isolating self from friends and family

Reckless behaviors

Giving away priced possessions

Seeking ways to end one’s life

Moods including depression, rage, anxiety, humiliation

Protective Factors can support a person struggling with suicidal thoughts. These can include:

Supportive family and friends

Effective Mental Health Treatment

Effective clinical care for medical diagnoses

Effective coping skills

Social Connections

There is help and support. Reach out to:

Call 911

A Mental Health professional

Create a safety plan with a trusted friend/family member or mental health professional

Participate in Individual and/or Family therapy

Connect with your primary care physician to see if medications can provide support

Connect with your spirituality by mediation/prayer

Engage in physical exercise

Services that can also support Chemical Dependency Treatment, if that applies

Recommendations for survivors of Suicide Loss:

Give yourself permission and the needed time to grieve

Remember you are not responsible for the death of your loved one

Seek support groups

Seek psychotherapy

Recommendations for supporting Survivors of Suicide Loss:

Acknowledge the death of their loved one

Provide an empathic and compassionate listening ear

Ask the survivor if there are ways in which they need support

“I say to survivors like myself that it is possible to find fulfillment in life again.  You can use this tragedy to grow and gain strength that you never had before”. -Anonymous survivor

Websites/Support and Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:   800-273-8255

Learn more about the author of this post: Kanosha Leonard, LCPC