S.U.I.C.I.D.E. – a word that, at times, is forbidden and foreboding. A word that, because of fear or shame, many people are uncomfortable talking about or admitting that they think about in a passing manner. Yet an action that is attempted and completed quite often in our society. Suicide is one of the Top 1f0 overall causes of deaths in the US. It is the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10 and 34 years and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 34 and 54. Suicide rates are even higher for people over the age of 54 years.
Contrary to myth, talking about suicide does not increase the likelihood that someone will commit suicide. Talking to someone about their struggles and identifying thoughts of self-harm, may actually help the person decide against self-harm and help them connect to resources for assistance.
- Talking about wanting to die
- Making a plan to kill oneself
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Exhibiting extreme mood swings
- Withdrawing from others and things that have been important
- Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol
- Feeling hopeless, trapped, or having no purpose
- Giving away items of importance
- Put together a small emergency “go” bag with meaningful items that you can access quickly to help you feel more connected with positive and important things in life. Examples of things to put in your “go” bag are: a change of clothes, pictures of loved ones, your favorite book, a puzzle, writing tablet and pen.
- Who will I call? Seek professional help, contact a trusted clergy member, or contact a trusted family member or friend.
- Make a list with names and phone numbers of two or three people who will support you through this crisis. Include the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or TEXT 838255
- What will I do? Make a list of safe places to go and safe things to do. Download to your mobile device the Virtual Hope Box app, created by the Defense Health Agency for a collection of resources to use. Remove (or have a loved one take) items that you might use to attempt suicide (firearms, pills, etc.). Do activities that will help you to relax and refocus your thoughts. Here are a few self-soothing activities:
- Focus on your breath – take a few minutes to pull all of your attention and focus on your breathing. Take slow, deep “belly” breaths in through your nose and out of your mouth.
- Take a refreshing or relaxing shower or bath
- Sing or hum a song that inspires or calms you
- Cook a meal that smells and tastes good – it could be your favorite comfort food
- Speak positive words aloud. Be kind to yourself by saying good things to you about you and hear yourself say them.
- Where will I go? Seek safe shelter – an emergency department, or a family member’s or friend’s home, a special place in the park that puts you around others, or a support group meeting. Go where you will have the care and support of others.
- Talk to a trusted friend, openly and honestly
- Seek professional counseling
- Practice self-soothing activities
- Consult your physician if you feel you are becoming depressed
- Always encourage anyone with suicidal ideas, even if such thoughts are vague, to seek professional help
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