If you don’t know it already, September is recognized annually as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, the fourth leading cause among people ages 35-44, and the fifth leading cause among people ages 45-54.
We need to talk about this. Mental illness is real. I don’t know about you but I hate seeing people take their own lives because of depression. And most of the time, they leave before getting the chance to tell someone about their struggles. Society doesn’t let people open up. Society is never welcoming to those who have these types of struggles because mental illness is stigmatized from top to bottom.
We have to break the stigma.
It’s important to know the warning signs for suicide.
To help prevent suicide is to know what to look for and be prepared to intervene if you think a friend may be in danger. Warning signs may include:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Talking about feeling hopeless
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
4 ways you can help a friend.
If someone comes to you admitting some things they are struggling with, there are some things you can do to help and support them! These suggestions are not for crisis situations; they are only for less severe situations. If you or someone you know is in danger, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
1. Be their advocate.
When depression takes over, it can become very overwhelming and difficult to do normal things for a person. You can be their advocate by offering to make them a therapy appointment, driving them to the hospital, calling a family member, or reaching out to a mental health facility. You can even bring them food and help with house chores.
Check up on them and make sure that they are okay and know you are there.
2. Share your story.
It’s important that people know that they are not alone. Sharing your story can help others by providing hope and encouragement, and also help break down the stigma around depression. That is why I share my story shamelessly throughout my blog because I know that somewhere in the world I am helping someone choose to live. Aside from the people who do reach out to me, I know that there are still others who read my posts but don’t reach out to me and that is totally fine. All that matters is that I am comforting others and helping them through tough times.
Even if you don’t have depression, you can still share a story that is relevant to the situation. Discuss something that you struggle with that no one knows about.
3. Remember their feelings are valid.
Do not minimize their feelings. Whatever reason they have for feeling suicidal might not make sense to you and that is totally fine. Just don’t minimize it. The littlest situation can turn into a crisis for someone with depression. Instead of saying “oh you’re going to be okay, that’s nothing” or “stop being dramatic,” try talking them through their feelings. Let them get all of those feelings out and even when it seems like nothing, let that be okay.
4. Be there and listen.
Sometimes just having someone there to vent to can be very helpful. When I say listen, I really mean LISTEN, even if you don’t understand half of the things they are saying. Let them get everything off of their chest. They are feeling hopeless and your goal is to listen with compassion and empathy, without dismissing or judging.
You can also be an active listener. Ask them why are they feeling that way and how long have they been feeling like that. Help investigate every aspect of their feelings.
Suicide is preventable.
By listening, talking, and acting you could save a life.
The happiest person you know can be depressed. You would never know because that’s how depression works. Check on your friends and loved ones. Offer help even if it isn’t asked for.