Suicide Prevention Week

Merely Me Health Guide
  • This week, September 7th through the 13th  is National Suicide Prevention Week.  I was contacted by my friend Susan from the blogger world, who gave me a huge packet of information and links to share with you all.  Susan is also an advocate for mental health awareness and you can find her at her site "When you are going through hell keep going."


    I wish I could say that I am a stranger to this topic but I'm not.  I have had personal experience with both needing and giving help to those who are feeling suicidal.  When I was still a teenager I had a boyfriend who threatened to commit suicide and began to act upon it.  He got hold of a gun (his mother had guns for protection in her home) and held it up to his head.  The gun was loaded.  His mother, his friends, and I spent several terrifying hours talking him out of pulling the trigger.  What seemed to help most was to tell him that his idea would not solve anything and that we would help him to get through this.  When he finally gave over the gun I sobbed with relief. 

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    In my very post here on HealthCentral, entitled Reaching Out,  I give my candid first hand account of when I called a suicide hotline.  I had the fortune to talk to a therapist named Frank who gave validation to my feelings of both anger and despair. In our phone conversation which lasted nearly an hour, Frank reminded me that suicide would not end my pain, it would simply end me.  The pain would live on with everyone I would leave behind.  It had been his experience as clinician that the ones left behind following a suicide, suffer from life long emotional scars and quite often profound guilt.  In our depressed state we may believe, as I did in those moments that people are better off without us but it simply isn't true.  Frank also helped me to understand that I would not always feel this extreme despair.  It was possible to feel better but I needed to hang on so I could have the chance to feel good again.  I am grateful to this day for the exceptional help I received in my time of need.  There are people out there who can help.


    The following facts about suicide were obtained from the media and press kit created for National Suicide Prevention week by The American Association of Suicidology 


    • In the United States, one person completes suicide every 16 minutes.
    • It is estimated that 5 million people in the United States are survivors of suicide (those who have lost a loved one to suicide).
    • 51% of people who die by suicide use a firearm, and guns stored in the house are used for suicide 40 times more often than for self-protection.
    • In the United States, more people die by suicide (50% more!) each year than by homicide.
    • Over 90 percent of suicide victims have a significant psychiatric illness at the time of their death. These are often undiagnosed, untreated, or both. Mood disorders and substance abuse are the two most common.
    • There is a relationship between alcoholism and suicide; the risk of suicide in alcoholics is 50 to 70 percent higher than the general population.
    • Whereas the overall suicide rate in our country has only slightly declined from record highs in recent years, the suicide rate for those 15-24 years old has more than doubled since the mid-1950s; and the suicide rate remains highest for adults 75 years of age and older.


  • What Are The Warning Signs?

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    The following warning signs were derived as a consensus from a meeting of internationally-renowned clinical researchers held under the auspices of AAS in Wellesley, MA in November 2003.



    A person at risk for suicidal behavior most often will exhibit warning signs such as:


    • Expressed or communicated ideation
    • Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to
      hurt or kill him/herself.
    • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to
      firearms, available pills, or other means.
    • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these
      actions are out of the ordinary.
    • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use.
    • Feeling no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
    • Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time.
    • Feeling trapped (like there's no way out)
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
    • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
    • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without
    • Dramatic mood changes


    How To Help


    The following is also from The American Association of Suicidology:



    1. Be aware. Learn the warning signs.
    2. Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
    3. Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
    4. Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
    5. Be willing to listen. Allow for expression of feelings. Accept the feelings.
    6. Be non-judgmental. Don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don't lecture on the value of life.
    7. Don't dare him/her to do it.
    8. Don't give advice by making decisions for someone else to tell them to behave differently.
    9. Don't ask ‘why'. This encourages defensiveness.
    10. Offer empathy, not sympathy.
    11. Don't act shocked. This creates distance.
    12. Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
    13. Offer hope that alternatives are available, do not offer glib reassurance; it only proves you don't understand.
    14. Take action! Remove means! Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.



    Where To Find Help:


    Call toll free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (1-800-273-TALK (8255)


    And also:






    For email support: email support 


    When suicidal intent or risk is detected early, lives can be saved!  Whether you are experiencing suicidal thoughts yourself or you are helping a loved one or friend, please do not be afraid to reach out.  Talk to someone.  It could save your life or someone you love.


Published On: September 07, 2008