September marks Suicide Prevention Month, an annual observance dedicated to increasing awareness of and action around suicide prevention.
Everyone can play a role in protecting their friends, family members, and colleagues from suicide. However, a national poll found that almost 50 percent of American respondents identified barriers that stopped them from trying to help someone at risk for suicide. These included the fear that they would say or do something to make things worse rather than better, and not knowing how to find help for a person in crisis.
To ensure the public is informed about the actions that can help save a life in their families, neighborhoods, schools, faith communities, and workplaces, the Action Alliance is leveraging the good work of existing campaigns (#BeThe1To, #BeThere, and Take 5 to Save Lives) that focus on the importance of being there for others.
Click on each of the campaigns below to find resources, sample messages, social media graphics and more.
We need your help to share simple actions that can support someone in crisis and potentially help save a life. Together we can make a difference!
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Be Aware of the Warning Signs
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increase alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
Be Aware of the Facts
- Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
- Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions.
- Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
- Approximately 41,100 Americans kill themselves every year. The number of suicide attempts is much greater,
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, and it is the 10th leading cause of death among all persons.
- The suicide rate is higher among the elderly (over 65) than any other age group.
- 3.5 times as many men kill themselves as compared to women, yet three times as many women attempt suicide.
- Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries.
- Firearms are currently the most utilized method of suicide by essentially all groups (male, female, young, old, white, non-white).
- Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, they may themselves be at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.
Ways to Be Helpful to Someone in Crisis
- Be aware. Learn the warning signs.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
- Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow for expression of feelings. Accept the Feelings.
- 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.
- Don’t dare him/her to do it.
- Don’t give advice by making decisions for someone else to tell them to behave differently.
- Don’t ask ‘why’. This encourages defensiveness.
- Offer empathy, not sympathy.
- Don’t act shocked. This creates distance.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available, do not offer glib reassurance; it only proves you don’t understand.
- Take action! Remove means! Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.