September marks Suicide Prevention Month, and Health First’s Behavioral Wellness says preventing a tragedy starts with a conversation. ‘Talking about suicide does not encourage suicide.’
It’s sometimes said of suicide that the cause is temporary while the effect is permanent. That’s a nice turn of phrase, but at Health First’s Behavioral Wellness, we know that many of us suffer more than “a bad day.” We may need continual, clinical help. So, this Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, let’s talk.
“Talking about suicide does not encourage suicide,” says DeAnn Collins, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Program Manager at Health First’s Behavioral Wellness.
Rather, studies show that talking about it reduces the risks of death and raises the likelihood of successful intervention.
Every year, about 40,000 to 50,000 Americans die by suicide, leaving behind loved ones with broken hearts, and a lot of questions. And suicide shows no favoritism. It impacts all races and genders, all occupations and socio-economic statuses. In fact, recent coverage has highlighted mental health conditions and even suicide among healthcare workers and doctors. We have as much reason to raise awareness this September as any other sector of the economy.
The pandemic has exacerbated factors that increase suicide. Social isolation, economic stressors (business closings, shut downs), media coverage, loss of healthcare coverage and lack of participation in religious communities can contribute to suicidal ideations.
“Previous pandemics have been associated with increased suicide rates,” says Toni Stephens, an LCSW at Health First's Behavioral Wellness Intensive Outpatient program: Spanish Flu, SARS, and the Ebola outbreak in Africa, to name a few.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. – and that’s an outcome not based on reality, literally. Suicidal ideation usually follows from a pattern of self-delusion and altered self-value in which how we see ourselves is divorced from how others – family, friends, coworkers – see us.
"Suicide prevention starts with reaching out and asking for help," says Stephens.
Suicidal thoughts are real, frequent and manageable, especially in the COVID-19 era we're currently experiencing. Learning to recognize and respond to warning signs – your own or others’ – may save a life.
And you don't have to battle the journey alone. We're here to help.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Learn more about Health First’s Behavioral Wellness at HF.org/BehavioralWellness or call 321.434.7604.