by Jan McDaniel
This article appeared originally in Psych Central's World of Psychology blog.
Learning about suicide is important. Most individuals who end their lives (over 40,000 each year in the United States alone) struggle with mental health disorders. Knowing the signs and symptoms do not always prevent suicides but could help you protect yourself, your family and your friends. Reach out to health professionals if you are worried, and keep in mind you can also research reputable organizations online. The one thing you don’t want to do is stay uninformed about something that could mean the difference between life and death.
Warning signs that may indicate a mental health disorder could be mistaken for the kind of common reactions that often occur in the teen years due to rapid changes experienced at this time of life or at other times during periods of high stress. Yet, according to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, suicide is a leading cause of death in those aged 15 to 24.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists possible symptoms that can appear and can help with finding a local NAMI chapter in your area or finding treatment. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am-6 pm ET at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or via email at email@example.com. If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
Possible symptoms of mental health disorders include the following:
While all ages can struggle with mental health issues, children’s symptoms may be different than those of adults. Here is NAMI’s list of warning signs that may occur in children:
Since that time, the CDC states that students (and others) can benefit from programs that present suicide in a factual way. Programs that address “protective factors,” which can mitigate against suicide, can be helpful. Even in elementary school, protective strategies can be enhanced through curricula that focus on social problem-solving skills, coping strategies, and the identification of trusted adult members of the child’s support system.
Similar advice is given to today’s journalists. When writing about suicide, covering a local event or broader news such as the death of a celebrity, staying with the facts, avoiding grim details, and highlighting resources that can help with mental health issues is the best course of action. Failure to follow these guidelines can cause further damage to the community and, possibly, additional suicides.
Many myths surround suicide. Among them is the idea that people who often talk about completing suicide are just trying to get attention and are not seriously considering going through with the act. This is not true. Talking about suicide could be a person’s way of asking for help. Don’t ignore them.
Other myths include these misconceptions:
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
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Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: