Mocksville, NC – The idea that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season is a long perpetuated myth. However, this “myth”, can often hamper prevention measures.
The holidays can certainly be a time of stress, but the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that suicide often peaks in the spring and fall. This data supports the reason to be on the lookout for suicidal behavior during any time of the year.
Suicide remains a major public health problem and is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans Each year, more than 36,000 people take their own lives. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), “suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair.” Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide and may be left undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems may overlap to increase complexity and put a person at higher risk.
Certain risk factors, defined as “characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life”, are often signs that an individual may need help. Health factors include mental health conditions such as, depression, substance use problems, anxiety disorders, serious physical health conditions including pain, and traumatic brain injury. Environmental factors include access to lethal means, prolonged stress, stressful life events, other life transitions or loss, or exposure to another person’s suicide. Historical factors include previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, childhood abuse, neglect or trauma.
If you think someone is considering suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out and speak to them.
Consider these points when talking with someone:
- Talk to them in private
- Listen to their story
- Tell them you care about them
- Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
- Encourage them to seek treatment or to contact their doctor or therapist
- Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
- Do not leave the person alone
- Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional. This may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychiatric nurse, or counselor with mental health training You may find these professionals in emergency departments, hospitals, clinics, schools, community and religious centers, and in private practices.
Ask your primary care physician, pediatrician or ob-gyn for a referral. If you feel unhappy, depressed, anxious, fearful, moody, or in need of emotional help, a mental health professional can help you to understand your problems and to feel better. They have specialized training to identify and understand problems that may be causing you discomfort or putting you at risk.
To locate mental health providers in your area along with more information about choosing the right provider for you, consider the following resources for complete and updated information: