By: Jennifer Hall
Each year in the United States, approximately 41,000 people die by suicide, leaving friends and family members to negotiate the tragic landscape of grief. And the problem is growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, suicide rates have risen by 30% since 1999.
To help combat this disturbing trend, September has been declared National Suicide Prevention Month. It is an important opportunity to better educate the public about the warning signs of suicide, as well as to highlight the many resources available for individuals and families in crisis. Here are just a few things you can do to help anyone in your family or community who may be at risk.
Suicide prevention depends to a large degree on understanding the behaviors that often precede a suicide attempt, as well as the factors that often accompany suicidal behavior. Learning to recognize “red flag” behaviors, statements, or feelings can increase the chances of effective intervention.
The warning signs that someone may be in need of more direct intervention can range from the subtle to the obvious. Sometimes it can be a comment, such as “You’d be better off without me,” or “What’s the point in going on?” Other times, behaviors can indicate that a person is thinking of ending their life.
Other factors linked to an increased risk for suicidal behavior include feelings of hopelessness, dramatic mood swings, and a previous clinical diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. And while the presence of one or two warning signs is not in itself predictive of a suicide attempt, these signs help family members, friends, and clinicians identify patterns that are commonly associated with suicidal thoughts or actions.
Like many mental health conditions, suicide can affect people of any age, gender, cultural background, education level, or socioeconomic status. Knowing when to refer someone for treatment can often be life-saving. The warning signs listed above can offer some guidance on when to refer a person for help. By identifying patterns in behavior, as well as statements or emotions expressed by the individual, you can develop a clearer idea of whether someone could benefit from a referral to a mental health professional.
Another gauge is to look at how well they perform basic activities of daily living. Are they able/willing to bathe, dress themselves, and prepare meals? What are their sleep patterns like? Are they ever violent, or do they threaten violence against themselves or others? The answers to questions like these can help you decide when to seek professional help.
If you or a family member is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, you are not alone. There are agencies staffed by trained clinicians and professional therapists waiting to help, often within or near your community. Below, you’ll find a list of resource links for suicide prevention and family support initiatives in Kentucky.
At Key Assets Kentucky, we understand the critical role intervention plays in suicide prevention. Our professional counselors are experienced in meeting the mental health challenges of both youths and adults. We emphasize community-based care in the treatment of anxiety, depression, emotional trauma, and other mental health disorders that can be associated with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
If you or someone you love is in crisis, don’t delay. Contact Key Assets Kentucky today. We’re here to help.
Key Assets Kentucky, is a behavioral health and child caring company based in Central Kentucky. Through our Key Assets Behavioral Health program and Children in Community Care program, we seek to positively impact the lives of children, young people, their families. We specialize in offering support services via residential treatment group home care for youth with autism and/or developmental disabilities, and behavioral health therapy and case management services for youth, adults and families in times of crisis. Key Assets Kentucky is part of the Key Assets Group, an international group of companies delivering a continuum of services for children, adults and families.