The month of September is frequently associated with the autumn return, Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes, and sweater weather. However, did you know that September is also a month that oversees National Suicide Prevention?
Suicide is one of those topics that you feel comfortable discussing or feel that it shouldn’t be brought up in a conversation. It’s a difficult issue, but it’s a real issue. According to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the second-leading cause of death for females between 15 and 24 years old is suicide. Not only that but the National Institute of Mental Health even suicidal thoughts account for 10.5 percent of overall thoughts for those aged 18 to 25 years old.
There could be times where a challenging semester, a breakup with a partner, or an end of a friendship pushes you towards suicidal thinking or a depressive episode. Or maybe that’s not the case. It could be that though everything seems to be going right in your life, you somehow feel a constant void from within. It’s not as if something is wrong with you and that you should hide that part of yourself. In fact, the most important thing to do is to open yourself up to others about this. Whether it’s your friend group, a parent, a professor, or a mentor, telling someone trustworthy about any suicidal ideation you’re having is one of the best ways to seek help.
If you’re not ready to talk about this with someone who knows you personally, there’s still available aid. Listed below are some of the resources to reach out to others.
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Georgia Crisis Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
- Crisis Text Line: 741741
How to Be an Ally for Suicide Prevention Awareness
If you’re not someone who’s struggling with suicidal thoughts, but you either know someone who is or wants to help those who may be silently struggling, there are organizations and movements to look towards. #BeThe1To, a movement created to go alongside the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, collects resources to help individuals be equipped to save a life. Listed below are the five ways to be a useful ally for those who need help.
Simply asking, “Are you thinking about suicide?” is a great way to let the other person know that you’re being non-judgmental and that you care for their well-being. Never promise someone that you will keep their suicidal thoughts a secret. Once you ask, make sure that you’re attentively listening to what they have to say.
- Be There
Whether physically or through a text—frequently or occasionally—show your support for that person in need. Do what you’re actually able to do and stick to your word. Your presence and genuine interest in that person will help more than you think.
- Keep Them Safe
This might be difficult, but it’s an important part of the #BeThe1To movement. You need to know if the person you’re helping has ever attempted suicide or if they already have a plan to do so. Do they have access to a firearm? Do they keep a lot of over-the-counter medicine where they live? Knowing this information can stop a suicide attempt from happening or reoccurring. For more resources on what to do, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides detailed information about this step.
- Help Them Connect
Is there a support group for suicidal individuals in your area? By finding these kinds of groups and organizations, you can help direct the person you’re aiding to another form of support and connection. You can also create a safety plan with that other person, in case they may ever have a severe episode of suicidal thoughts or behavior.
- Follow Up
After you’ve had the tough conversations, make sure to follow up with a text or call every now and then. No matter the medium you choose to do the follow-up, simply reaching out to the person you’re helping is going to bring about a sense of connection and ongoing support for them.
Life can be incredibly hard sometimes. There have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve felt hopeless. But what has kept me going is the reminder that things will get better. Your current situation is not your future, neither is it all that your life will ever be. Know that you are so valuable to this world. Someone out there, regardless if you've met them or not, needs you to stay alive. Your story matters and could one day help save a life.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (n.d.). Fatal injury data. In Leading causes of death reports, 1981-2018. Retrieved from https://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe
How and why the 5 steps can help. (n.d.). #BeThe1To. Retrieved from https://www.bethe1to.com/bethe1to-steps-evidence/
National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Suicide. In National Institute of Mental Health statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml#part_154973