Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States. This is true among ALL age groups. Suicide is an issue that affects ALL of us. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide often is a barrier to many who truly need help. In fact, according to the CDC, someone completes suicide every 11 minutes in the United States. For as many completed suicides, there are even more individuals who struggle with suicidal ideation. Surveys have been completed to assess this information but often many people do not want to answer these questions leaving us to assume suicidal ideation is MUCH more common than we could ever imagine. Let’s look at a few definitions:
Suicidal ideation: Suicidal ideation consists of thoughts such as:
Wishing to go to sleep and not wake up or thinking one would be better off dead
Thoughts of killing oneself or thoughts of ways one might end their own life
Suicidal intent and a suicide plan are NOT necessarily the same. A person can have thoughts of how they might go about ending their life but may not have intent to do so. A suicide attempt is “a non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with an intent to die as the result of the behavior.” (National Institute of Mental Health)
There are also some common myths about suicide including:
Asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts or talking about suicide with someone, makes them more likely to act on the thoughts.
- This isn’t true, if anything when approached with compassion and a non-judgmental perspective, this can create a safe space for someone to talk about what is really happening, versus the person feeling that they cannot be honest about what they are thinking and feeling.
2. Someone who is talking about suicide is looking for attention.
- Also not true. If someone is talking about suicide, it isn’t appropriate to assume that the person is seeking attention. You can ask them if they have a plan and furthermore, intent to act.
3. Suicide is a selfish act and someone who completes is taking the easy way out. (NAMI)
- Again, not true. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and trauma-related disorders (such as PTSD) are medical disorders and the risk for suicide is very real. Just as some physical conditions have a risk of death, some mental health conditions do as well.
Suicide is multifaceted. However, if you feel that you are in danger of harming yourself or that someone else may be at a risk to harm themselves, DO NOT hesitate to seek help. And always if you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. You do not have a deal with a crisis on your own.
You can always access the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They also have a website: suicidepreventionlifeline.org. It is a fantastic resource.
We all need help at some time or other. Check on your friends and loved ones. It could make a huge difference. Here are some additional resources:
www.twloha.com –To Write Love on Her Arms
For non-crisis related inquiries regarding counseling services, feel free to call Calm Mind Counseling at 773-234-0423.