Get the FACTS about Suicide Prevention

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By Kara Witthuhn, School-Based Counselor, Christian Family Solutions

It’s a difficult topic to discuss. Yet it’s essential for all of us to remain alert to the warning signs of suicide. The act of self-harm usually happen without warning—There are typically signs that others can see or hear. Get the FACTS and learn what you can do to help someone who exhibits any of these warning signs1:

FEELINGS
• Hopelessness
• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
• Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
• Having no sense of purpose in life

ACTIONS
• Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
• Withdrawing from friends, family, society, and typical activities
• Increased use of alcohol or drugs
• Giving away prized possessions

CHANGES
• Decline in quality of school work
• Dramatic mood changes
• Anxiety, agitation, change of eating/sleeping habits

THREATS
• Threatening/talking about hurting self

SITUATIONS
• Experiencing stressful situations including those that involve loss, change, create personal humiliation, or involve getting into trouble at home, in school or with the law.

What can you do if you are concerned about someone?

 
If you have any concerns about someone’s mental health, take action. Approach the person with love. Share care and concern.
“I am worried about you and I just want to check in.”
“I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to be yourself recently. How are you?”

When the youth shares feelings, acknowledge feelings and be a non-judgmental support.
“Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me. I’m so sorry that you are struggling with so much.”

If you have concerns that the person has suicide intent, ask directly about it.
It is a commonly held myth that asking about suicide intent will increase suicidal tendencies. However, research2 shows that people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation. Asking directly helps you to assess the level of need and gives you the information needed to help access proper resources. Do not be afraid to ask the question, “Have you thought of killing yourself?”

Seek professional crisis support.
In an emergency, dial 911 or take the youth to a local emergency room for evaluation. If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States and will connect you with local resources when needed.

Know that mental health treatment is effective.
Connect the youth to on-going professional mental health support as soon as possible. The most common mental illness leading to suicide is depression. Depression is also one of the most treatable mental health conditions. Early intervention increases positive outcomes. Don’t delay. Ask for professional help. If you are unsure of local resources for mental health treatment, ask your pediatrician or school counselor.

Secure lethal means.
Secure storage of all lethal means is a critical prevention strategy and reducing access provides the most significant reduction in youth suicide rates. Most often, youth who attempt suicide use a gun or drugs kept in the home. Do not allow youth to have unsupervised access to firearms and dangerous medications.

If you or someone you know needs counseling please call Christian Family Solutions Counseling Care & Services at 800-438-1772.

If you are experiencing a health emergency of any kind, please dial 911.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

You can also use the chat feature at 988lifeline.org.

1SOURCE: American Association of Suicidology
2SOURCE: National Library of Medicine: Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence?



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