Let's Work Together to Prevent Suicide [Warning Signs of Suicide]

Let’s Work Together to Prevent Suicide [Warning Signs of Suicide]

Feb 24, 2022 | Outreach | 0 comments

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Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With numbers on the rise (a 33% increase between 1999 and 2019), we have a lot of work to do as a society in order to decrease the lives lost every year to this tragic event. Although it is not always obvious that there is something going on, knowing the signs can help you identify it. There is no single cause for suicide, there are known risk factors and warning signs of suicide that we need to be aware of.

 It is known that suicide doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. By educating ourselves on the risk factors and warning signs, we can help those who are at risk for suicide and potentially save lives.

In this blog post, we will discuss the warning signs of suicide and the risk factors involved. We will also provide some tips on how you can help someone who may be suicidal.

What is Suicide?

By basic definition, suicide is the act of taking one’s own life. It occurs when people have thoughts of harming themselves and decide to take their lives. The warning signs of suicide that may lead to this vary, but we will go over those below as well.

According to statistics from the CDC, more than 47,500 people died by suicide in 2019. As sad as it may sound, this is a problem that is still increasing today. 

Suicide can be intentional or accidental. Intentional suicide is a result of planned actions while accidental suicide happens when someone does not intend to take their life but death still occurs. 

In the coming sections, we will discuss the possible factors that lead to suicide, warning signs to consider, and how suicide can be prevented.

What Causes Suicide?

There is no single cause for suicide. Rather, it is the result of many factors. Some of these risk factors may result from mental health conditions, past traumatic life events or experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, or the death of a loved one.

In addition, some suicide cases are linked to alcohol or drug abuse. People who misuse substances are more prone to suicide than others. Whatever the causes of suicide, it is important to detect the warning signs for suicide early.

Significant Suicidal Factors

Some risk factors can help you detect whether there are eminent factors at play on someone’s mental health and how you can intervene to provide aid when needed.

Risk Factors

Girl laying beside her bed and folding her arms

 

These are conditions that increase the chances of someone being suicidal. If someone you love, or even yourself is currently experiencing any of these symptoms, keep an eye on how you or they engage with the world around them. Reach out and show support and that you are there for them. This can greatly decrease negative factors on mental health and help through the rough patches the person may be going through.

 

 

These include:

  • Health Factors: Suicide is more common in people with physical health problems such as cancer, chronic pain, heart disease, or stroke. In some instances, these people have given up on life and they just want to end the pain coming from their health issues. Also, suicide rates are common in people who have a serious mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder. They are more prone to harming themselves and this can lead to suicide. Examples of chronic health disorders that prompt suicide include Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, mental disorder, and so on. 
  • Social Factors: Suicide risk increases when one does not have social support and connections to other family members, friends, or loved ones. For example, if someone has lost their job, home, or going through a divorce, risks are increased. These people may feel that they have lost everything and see no reason to continue with life.
  • Psychological Factors: Also known as the emotional factors common to people who tend to be impulsive and may act without thinking of the consequences due to their mental health state are at risk for suicide. Those with low self-esteem fall under this category. Self-pity and feelings of worthlessness usually accompany suicidal attempts.
  • Environmental Factors: The environment that someone resides in can be a strong factor for suicide. Some environments are prone to more violence, abuse, drug use, and other factors which may influence suicidal ideation. Also, the media or personal contact (or lack thereof due to COVID for example) may increase the risk of suicide. This is because people tend to romanticize suicide and this can lead someone vulnerable to copying what they see. Examples of environmental suicidal factors includes access to lethal weapons, bullies, etc.
  • Hereditary and Historical Factors:  Suicide can also be a result of hereditary and family history. In other words, suicide may run in families or some suicides may be linked to certain events which can be traced to the family history. Also note if there has been previous suicide attempt in the family as this could increase risks also. Factors such as Mood disorders, psychotic disorders, certain personality disorders and substance use disorders can increase suicide risk substantially, according to Mayo Clinic.
  • Behavioral Factors: Suicide is more common in people with a history of suicide attempts or any potentially dangerous behavior. This can make suicide appear as the only solution to their problems.  Also, people who engage in self-harm or violent behavior are at risk for suicidal behavior.

All these factors strongly influence suicide. Therefore, any person showing these signs needs to be taken seriously and get help. There are a number of mental health services available to you, no matter where in the world you may reside. You can see a list of these services by Googling for “mental health services”. If you are within the United States, SAMHSA has a National Helpline available to you. 

Protective Factors

A woman and her therapist talking about warning signs of suicide

 

As stated above, suicidal risks can often be detected if protective factors are in place. Protective factors are conditions that reduce suicide risk. Do not feel as though you are wrong for not detecting them, but education is key and we can all play a small part in helping others. Simply knowing you are not alone is a big step in helping to decrease suicide numbers worldwide.

 

 

 

These factors include:

  • Connectedness: Suicide is more likely to strike in people who feel they have no connection with others. However, if someone feels connected to family members and friends, suicide is less likely to occur. 
  • Healthy Coping Skills: If a person has effective coping skills and tools available to them, suicide is often times less likely. When people are given the comfort knowing they can express their feelings, solve problems, and deal with painful stress positively are less likely to feel suicidal.
  • Self-Esteem: A person with good self-esteem is usually confident and often times will not see suicide as an option. They have a positive view of themselves and believe that they are worthy. Therefore, self-confidence needs to be an active part of every learning process. Helping someone to build their self-esteem is possible and doing things together to feel good and decrease hopelessness will help.
  • Mental Health Care: Those who have access to mental health services and receive support from caring friends and family are less likely to act on suicidal thoughts than those who are socially isolated. If you know of someone who is showing suicide warning signs don’t be afraid to inquire about their mood or thoughts of suicide. Ask whether they are seeing a therapist or taking medication. Just asking this question can often times show that they are loved and cared for, and can have a huge impact.

All these factors need to be in place so suicide can be decreased or prevented. Let’s work together to create a society where suicide is not an option; where people know there are others who care about them and who will do anything they can to help.

Challenges And Obstacles To Suicide Prevention

When it comes to helping others, this is exactly why we exist as a foundation. We are dedicated to increasing suicide awareness and prevention through outreach, education, and improving mental health care accessibility. When it comes to the challenges we face everyday as a nonprofit, we want it to be transparent that there are challenges to what we do. These challenges often times stifle the progress of suicide prevention but can be overcome!

The challenges include:

  • Lack of training for suicide prevention workers and health care providers: Suicide is preventable, but it takes effort from all stakeholders to do so. Health care workers need to be trained and aware of suicide risk factors and warning signs so they can take action in time.  Educators and students need to have regular training and exposure to the risk factors and how to overcome them. This is one of our biggest goals as a foundation, and with your help we will come closer and closer to making the biggest impact we can.
  • Lack of awareness and public education: The public needs to be educated on suicide prevention. They need to know the warning signs, how to get help for someone in danger and what they can do to prevent suicide.
  • Negative attitudes towards mental health: There are a lot of stigmas attached to mental illness. This stops people from seeking help when they need it and leads to suicide. Statements such as “man up” or “boys don’t cry” only hinder that. We need the world to know that nobody is alone, and everyone struggles in one way or another.
  • Lack of resources: There are not enough resources allocated to suicide prevention. This includes funding, trained professionals, and facilities. Furthermore, not enough people talk about it so even the resources that are available are often not at the top of mind when someone is considering the negative action. Our goal is to highlight this and bring more awareness to services available.
  • Politics: Suicide prevention is often politicized and this can lead to disagreements on suicide prevention methods.

Let’s work together to overcome these obstacles. Suicide is a problem that we need to face head-on. It doesn’t discriminate and it can happen to anyone. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to reduce suicide rates as soon as possible.

Warning Signs Of Suicide

Flowing from the suicide risk factors stated above, you must always observe the warning signs  of suicide. These warning signs include:

  • Preoccupation with Death: This includes talking about death a lot, reading articles or stories about suicide, wanting to die, drawing pictures of death and posting them on social media, or writing suicide notes.
  • Extreme mood swings: This is one of the most prominent warning signs to look out for. Warning signs include mental disorders such as increased depression, anxiety disorders, agitation, irritability, feeling trapped, hopelessness, or helplessness.
  • Withdrawal from Society: The person in question starts to hide his/her feelings and emotions. They withdraw from their family members and friends and become isolated. Removing themselves from social activities and events, spending a lot of time alone are signs to watch out for. 
  • Suicidal Behaviors: This includes taking risky actions without fear or concern about the consequences. This suicidal behavior includes threatening suicide and attempted suicide. 
  • Substance Abuse: Abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to suicide. This is because these substances impair judgment, hinder decision-making skills and increase impulsiveness. 

Don’t hesitate to seek instant help if you notice any of the warning signs of suicide that we talked about above.

Conclusion

A girl sitting down and holding her hands with a friend beside her

Suicide is something we can all work together to prevent and save lives – it’s all about education on identifying the warning signs and getting people the help they need when they need it. Let’s be the society we want to see and work together to prevent suicide. 

If you or someone you know needs suicide help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and reach out with all the love and support you can. Also, please share this post with your friends and family to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. It might just save a life!

Together, we can make a difference. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available at 1-800-273-TALK.

 

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