September 6 – 12, 2020 marks Suicide Prevention Week this year. Suicide and its prevention are topics that are often considered taboo or brushed under the rug. Though suicide is difficult to talk about, at Reasons we believe it is essential to raise awareness of critical mental health issues. We also know that the link between suicide and eating disorders is real. One in 5 people anorexia deaths are by suicide.
The facts are heartbreaking, but essential to understand. When we know more, we are more capable of helping those in need. In that spirit, we wanted to share a few important facts about suicide, some key signs to watch for, and resources to seek help for those in need.
Know the Facts
Fact 1: Almost 800,000 people die of suicide each year.
Stigma might lead one to believe suicide is an uncommon occurrence, but that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. Suicide is a significant cause of death throughout the world. In fact, the stigma surrounding suicide hampers our ability to accurately report on its prevalence. If almost 800,000 deaths per year are reported as suicide, imagine how many do not get reported as such due to taboos?
Fact 2: Suicide impacts people of all socioeconomic statuses.
Suicide is often misconceived as an issue that only impacts high income populations. In reality, 79% of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. At Reasons, we see firsthand the misconceptions associated with mental health issues. Eating disorders are often misunderstood as an issue that only impacts people of high socioeconomic status. Just as eating disorders do not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or socioeconomic status, suicide can impact all populations.
Fact 3: Suicide is preventable.
Unfortunately, many people have experienced firsthand the grief and shock of losing someone they love to suicide. Even if we know that someone is struggling, we might never imagine that they are considering ending their life. Suicide is preventable when we learn to recognize its signs and reach out to offer help.
Know the Signs
What are the signs to look out for? SuicideisPreventable.org offers a helpful list of signs of concern, including but not limited to:
- Talking about wanting to die or suicide
- Expressing hopelessness or despair
- Sudden mood changes
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Reckless behavior
- Putting affairs in order
- Giving away possessions
These are only a few of many warning signs to consider, and signs might appear differently among teenagers versus adults or seniors. If you notice any signs that give you concern, seek out help.
Resources to Help
Approaching a loved one about suicide can feel very daunting. How do you find the right words to ask questions and identify help? Consider getting support from professional resources:
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers 24/7 support to anyone who is dealing with suicide or suicidal thoughts – personally or through a loved one. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a counselor at any time.
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers online resources in conjunction with the hotline, educational information, and an online chat feature.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers educational resources for people who are processing the loss of a loved one, for people who want to help someone at risk, and for those who want to make an impact in the community.
You are Not Alone
Whether you are struggling or you are concerned about a loved one, know that you are not alone. Call a hotline, talk to a counselor, or explore conversation starter resources. We all can be part of preventing suicide. We are all in this together and every one of us has the power to make a difference.