This week is National Suicide Prevention Week which focuses on raising public awareness and funds to support suicide prevention.
Although suicide can often be prevented, the statistics can be haunting. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 44,000 people dying in 2020.
If you or a loved one is in trouble, know two things: 1. You are not alone, and 2. There is hope. When we start to understand the risk factors, warning signs, and ways to reach out for help ourselves and how to help each other through crises, we can change the conversation about suicide and help prevent these tragic suicide attempts and deaths. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), warning signs that someone may be considering suicide include:
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one begins engaging in any of the following actions, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911:
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
You may also reach out to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 9-8-8. The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will be connected to trained counselors who can provide support and connect you to resources if necessary.
Tonja Dodd, MPH, is a Senior Health Strategy Analyst at Vitality Group where she translates clinical guidelines into risk-appropriate health promotion strategies to engage members in healthy behaviors. Her background is in public health with 25 years of experience designing, developing, and delivering health and wellness programs and products. Tonja finds her healthy place is being active outdoors and spending time with family, friends, and pets.