You are not alone: How to raise awareness during suicide prevention month

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September is a month known for its suicide prevention. However, suicide prevention is not limited to one month.

Suicide is considered the tenth leading cause of death in the country according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Despite this, many people prefer not to talk about suicide or mental health.

Talking about mental health or having suicidal thoughts has been a taboo topic for years, but it shouldn’t be.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Florida. It is the third leading cause of death in ages 10 to 24 and the second leading cause of death in ages 25 to 34.

It continues to present itself, despite being discussed in media and books. Some people don’t even notice the warning signs in themselves and others. And many people are unsure of what to do once they notice signs of suicide in themselves or others. 

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some warning signs may include if a person talks about killing themselves, being a burden to others, having no reason to live, or unbearable pain. 

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Other warning signs can include differences in behavior like increased drug and alcohol use, isolating themselves from family or friends, sleeping too much or too little and visiting or calling people to say goodbye.

Mood changes can also be warning signs. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that people who are considering suicide may experience depression, loss of interest, anxiety, humiliation or shame, anger and irritability. 

Some of the most current warning signs include talking about or planning to commit suicide or seeking out ways to kill oneself, according to Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition.

The warning signs may seem overwhelming at first, but it can be hard to miss when someone close to you is experiencing these signs. The best way to help someone you know who is showing these signs is to assure them that they are not alone. 

The National Alliance on Mental Health states that when talking to friends or family members about suicide, remember to maintain an open mind and a compassionate mindset. They also suggest attempting active listening techniques like summarizing the person’s thoughts or reflecting the person’s feelings to encourage validation. 

During a situation, take the person seriously if they confess to having thoughts of suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that you should also stay with that person, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and reach out afterward to check up on that person. 

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If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, don’t wait for someone to reach out, but call a therapist or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suggests that you should treat yourself the same way you would treat someone else who is having suicidal thoughts. 

People can also call different hotlines like the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline, the Crisis Text Line, RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline and more. 

It is also recommended to visit your primary care provider, local walk-in clinic or urgent care center if you are having thoughts of suicide.

Understanding the different warning signs of suicide and what to do during a crisis is difficult and it may not apply to everyone. However, it is easy to raise awareness on the subject of suicide. 

In a survey created by multiple mental health organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it’s revealed that 40% of people believe that only professionals can help someone who is suicidal. 

The survey also shows that 81% of people believe that it’s a national priority to talk about suicide prevention, especially during the pandemic.

Raising awareness on suicide prevention isn’t as difficult as it may sound. It can be as simple as bringing up the conversation with friends and family or posting an information post on social media.

Raising awareness on suicide prevention is also educating yourself and others about the importance of mental health. 

Researching the warning signs of suicide, prioritizing mental health and learning about the different ways to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts are ways to promote suicide prevention. 

Remember to always keep an open mind and a compassionate mindset when discussing difficult subjects like suicide and suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or needs professional help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

About the Author

Lauren Do Nascimento - Lauren is a junior at Nova Southeastern University who is studying Communications, Creative Writing, and Strategic Communications. In her free time, she loves to go to the beach and writing what's on her mind.

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