Every September, mental health care organizations and advocates like ourselves raise awareness of suicide prevention and recovery during National Suicide Prevention Month. Now, perhaps just as important as last year, the Traini Counseling Group wants to stress the importance of taking steps to support ourselves and those we love in crisis.
The Warning Signs of Suicide
The emotional, mental and physical toll of COVID-19 is still lingering with us today, affecting many of us in all walks of life. Unfortunately, the risk for suicide doesn’t just stop at pandemics; many people suffer from chronic mental illness, physical illness, substance abuse or other factors that put them at the risk of suicide. In particular, those who struggle with substance use disorders are six times more likely to attempt suicide.
Other common factors of people who are at risk of suicide include those who:
- Have made previous suicide attempts
- Struggle with mental illness, in particular depression
- Have a family history of suicide or child abuse
- Feel alone or isolated
- Have easy access to methods of suicide
- Struggle with getting mental health care (whether for financial, cultural or personal reasons)
- Deal with physical illness, or chronic pain
How to Help Prevent Suicide
If you or your family or friends are struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s first imperative to reach out and get help, from mental health professionals, others you are close to and/or other health care professionals. By reading this article, you’ve already taken the first and one of the most important steps to prevent suicide. By educating yourself about the warning signs and getting a better understanding of how to help, you can drastically decrease the chances of suicide for yourself and others.
Here are ways to help yourself and others struggling with thoughts of taking their life:
- Always seek effective treatment for mental, physical, and substance use disorders. If you’re not happy with past treatment attempts or current efforts, don’t despair! There are thousands of treatment options and health care professionals who are dedicated to getting a better understanding of who you are and what you need. That includes us!
- Reach out and connect with family, friends, and/or your community.
- Get support from others who are living with you or your loved ones’ diagnosis or life struggles. Those with a deep understanding of your experiences and feelings can connect with you and provide guidance where others may not have the same perspectives.
- Promote easier access to clinical interventions and care. This is particularly important in areas where access to therapists, psychologists or other health care providers is scarce.
- Lastly, raise awareness in cultures and religions that put a stigma on suicide and mental health care.
How to Recover from a Suicide Attempt
If you or someone you love has recently survived a suicide attempt, it may seem like an impossibly dark period in your life. You may feel grief, anger, exhaustion, shame and a plethora of other overwhelming emotions. Try to remember, for yourself and others, that recovery is possible, and that there are steps you and your loved one can take to move ahead and cope with the future.
- Form a safety plan. Remove all methods of self harm from your surroundings and have someone trusted be in charge of medication or items that may be used to harm. Identify your triggers and take necessary steps to learn how to cope or avoid these triggers.
- Build a support system. Join a support group. Again reach out to those you are close to, whether they are family or chosen family. Learning from and sharing with others is a tremendous step towards changing the way you respond to and make decisions in your life.
- Slowly learn to live again. Find a hobby or activity that brings you happiness. Interests that have you interact with others are particularly helpful, and will help you connect with the world around you. When negative thoughts arise, these connections and interests can help you and your loved ones cope and find joy in living.
- Realize that everyone’s road to recovery is different. There is no set “recovery time.” How and how long it may take a person to become comfortable and no longer at the risk of suicide is dependent on each individual. Patience, understanding, and support is everything.
If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are a veteran or part of the military, call the Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). If you are a young person who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.
Lastly, and certainly not least, if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other issues that you feel are negatively affecting your life, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Traini Counseling Group. We offer both individual, couples and group counseling for young people and adults. Questions? Give us a shout, we’re always here for you.