National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual observance from September 5-11 in the United States to increase suicide awareness. It aims to educate people on the warning signs of suicide, teach them how it can be reported or prevented, and decrease the stigma our culture has regarding suicide so that communication about this important subject can happen more easily.
According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Typically, an estimated 25 attempts are made for every completed teen suicide. Girls contemplate or attempt suicide twice as often as boys. However, perhaps because boys tend to use more lethal methods, four times as many of them die from suicide.
Warning Signs of Suicide
The greatest warning sign of suicide is severe depression. Going to a psychological professional is the best way to find out if a person is depressed. Often, such a professional will have a patient fill out a simple questionnaire to discover his or her risk for depression.
Not all people who are depressed are suicidal, but some can become suicidal quickly. Recognizing depression can be difficult, but symptoms include:
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Losing interest in normal activities
- Changing appetite or weight
- Changing sleeping patterns
- Changing moods (easily angered or irritated)
- Having less energy
- Feelings of self-loathing
- Engaging in reckless behavior
- Losing concentration
- Having unexplainable aches
- Moving or speaking slowly
- Thinking of self-harm
Specific warning signs that someone may be becoming suicidal are:
- Increased abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Lack of purpose in life, no reason to live
- Constant feelings of anxiety or agitation
- Unable to sleep or constantly sleeping
- A feeling of being trapped
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and the world
- Uncontrolled rage or revenge seeking
- Unthinking engagement in dangerous activities
- Wild mood shifts
- Unexplained pain
The signs of an acute, immediate danger of suicide are:
- Making threats to either hurt or kill him or her self or talking about causing themselves harm.
- Actively seeking ways to hurt themselves: access to guns, knives, pills, etc.
- Speaking or writing about death and dying which is abnormal for the person.
People can remember the warning signs for suicide with a relatively simple mnemonic device: IS PATH WARM? This stands for:
- I – Ideation
- S – Substance abuse
- P – Purposelessness
- A – Anxiety
- T – Trapped
- H – Hopelessness
- W – Withdrawal
- A – Anger
- R – Recklessness
- M – Mood changes
Join us this September 5-11 to increase knowledge about suicide prevention and to remove the harmful stigma around this topic. No one should feel alone because they believe they cannot talk about what they are going through or be so hopeless that they believe the only way out is to end their life.