Can Suicide Be Prevented?
Suicide can't be prevented with certainty, but risks can often be reduced with timely intervention. Research suggests that the best way to prevent suicide is to know the risk factors, be alert to the signs of depression and other mental disorders, recognize the warning signs for suicide, and intervene before the person can complete the process of self-destruction.
What Should I Do if I Think Someone is Suicidal?
People who receive support from caring friends and family and who have access to mental health services are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than are those who are socially isolated. If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs for suicide:
- Don't be afraid to ask if they are depressed or thinking about suicide.
- Ask if they are seeing a therapist or taking medication.
- Rather than trying to talk the person out of suicide, let them know that depression is temporary and treatable.
- In some cases, the person just needs to know that someone cares and is looking for the chance to talk about their feelings. You can then encourage the person to seek professional help
What Should I Do if I See the Warning Signs of Suicide?
If you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of killing themselves:
- Do not leave the person alone. If possible, ask for help from friends or other family members.
- Ask the person to give you any weapons they might have. Take away or remove sharp objects or anything else that the person could use to hurt themselves.
- If the person is already in psychiatric treatment, help them to contact the doctor or therapist for guidance and help.
- Try to keep the person as calm as possible.
- Call your local suicide prevention hotline or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMHSA) National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Know the Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.
• Mental disorders, particularity mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders.
• Alcohol and other substance use disorders
• Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
• History of trauma or abuse
• Major physical illnesses
• Previous suicide attempts(s)
• Family history of suicide
• Job or financial loss
• Loss of relationship(s)
• Easy access to lethal means
• Local clusters of suicide
• Lack of social support and sense of isolation
• Stigma associated with asking for help
• Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of personal dilemma
• Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and internet)
Know the Warning Signs
Please understand that some don’t show any signs and some may only show one of these signs. The important thing we can do is ask them, “Are you ok, because if you’re not, that’s ok. I’m here for you and I’m a great listener and will not judge. I want to help you. You’re not alone”.
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated: behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Extreme mood swings