By Danica Davidson, with additional reporting from The Jed Foundation
Note: September 8-14 is National Suicide Prevention Week. World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10.
When someone in the news or in our community dies by suicide, this inevitably leads to emotional reactions and conversations about the event. Here are some points to remember when talking or thinking about suicide.
1. Suicide doesn’t have to happen. Often, people who die by suicide were dealing with depression, drug addiction a traumatic event in their lives or a combination of several of these problems. But these things don’t have to lead to suicide. There are so many stories of people who struggled with these issues or situations and felt like they didn’t want to live anymore, but reached out for help and were able to feel better and continue to live a fulfilling life.
2. There are usually warning signs, but they can be hard to spot. Sometimes if feels like a suicide came out of the blue and there was nothing anyone could do. Generally there are warning signs and it’s important to learn them and look out for them so you can help yourself or a friend.
If you don’t know what to say or how to say it, you can always share this video with a friend.
3. No “one thing” causes suicide. Sometimes people get very depressed and have thoughts of suicide after a difficult event, like a break-up or being mistreated or bullied. But it isn’t the break-up, or any traumatic event, that causes the suicide. It’s generally a combination of many factors that can include depression, an anxiety disorder or emotional health conditions. Plenty of people who deal with tough times get sad or even hopeless, but are able to work through it with the help of friends, family or a professional. The important thing is that it is OK to reach out for help no matter what you are going through.
4. There are better ways to talk about suicide. It’s better not to use phrases like “he killed himself” or “she committed suicide” Suicide is generally the result of an illness and it’s more respectful to say that someone “died by suicide” than to make it sound like a crime by using words like “killed” and “committed." At the same time, it’s important to remember that suicide is preventable and the conditions that contribute to suicide, like depression, are treatable. There’s always hope.
5. Help can help. Some people who feel suicidal are so hopeless that they can’t imagine that friends, family or a mental health professional, can really help them. But counseling and treatment have helped so many people who have felt suicidal or been hopeless. Suicide never has to be the end of the story.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime for a confidential conversation with a trained counselor. You can learn more about getting help for many types of emotional struggles at www.halfofus.com.