Suicide: Know the Signs and What To Do
Suicide is a rapidly growing public health crisis: But by learning about it and reducing its stigma, you can help save lives
September 10, 2021
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States and it is actively becoming more common among particular groups. Because of this, it is important to have a discussion about why people take their lives and how to prevent suicide.
There is a dire need for education around suicidal thoughts and behaviors, with an emphasis on teaching people to recognize the signs as early as possible.
The truth is that everyone deserves to know that their life matters and that help is available.
By definition, suicide is caused by self-harming behavior with an intent to die. Attempted suicide is a self-directed, intentional behavior with an attempt to die that does not result in death.
When people talk about “suicidal ideation,” this refers to thoughts of suicide. Some people may have thought about or devised a plan to kill themselves yet have not acted on it.
To put suicide’s impact into perspective, it leads to twice as many deaths every year as homicide.
Four people die by suicide every hour in the U.S.
Suicide isn’t just an adult concern: children struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions as well. Close to 8% of high school students report having attempted suicide at least once during the preceding year.
Dispelling Myths About Suicide
Though there has been progress around encouraging people to openly discuss suicide, there is still a lot of work to be done. Some of the most common misconceptions that surround suicide include:
Myth: People Talk About Suicide but They Likely Won’t Act on It
If someone is talking about suicide, it is a sign that they potentially need help. You should use this as an opportunity to ask them how they are feeling and ensure that they are safe.
Myth: People Who Kill Themselves Must Be Crazy
First, there are some people who accidentally take their own lives. Second, not everyone who dies by suicide has a diagnosed mental health condition. People take their lives for many reasons, including because they are overcome with grief, are in a state of despair, are experiencing intense emotional pain, or are struggling with undiagnosed mental illness.
Myth: People Kill Themselves Because They Do Not Want To Seek Help
The overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide seek help before attempting or completing this action. More than half of all victims of suicide sought medical care during the months prior to their death.
Myth: We Shouldn’t Talk About Suicide Because We Will Put the Idea Into People’s Heads
Talking about suicide doesn’t make people more likely to take their lives. The reverse is true. By talking honestly about issues that lead to suicide, it is possible to convince people to get the help they need.
Students, Suicide, and What Parents Can Do
Growing up is hard. For some kids it can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Learn about warning signs and how to help a child who is struggling.