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Family Health

Unite to Prevent Suicide

After a public figure’s suicide, as in the recent death of comedian Robin Williams, there’s an increase in the number of calls to suicide prevention hotlines. Many experts believe it’s because people who have been struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide become even more aware of their emotions and reach out for professional help.

To bring greater awareness to the issue of suicide, individuals and organizations such as the DOD will commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. Since 2003, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has set September 10th aside to shine a light on the survivors and the many volunteers and mental health practitioners who work to ease the suffering of those on the brink of suicide. The 2014 theme is “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected” which reflects on the fact that connections are an important part of combating suicide.

Every year, nearly 800,000 people die from suicide – a number greater than that of lives lost due to homicide and war combined. Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds. Suicide is a complex problem that combines psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors. Mental disorders, particularly depression and alcohol use disorders, are a major risk factor.

It’s up to each of us to be aware of the feelings associated with suicide. While many people have thought about suicide at some point in their lives, it is those who believe their situation is inescapable and out of their control who often act on the desperation.  
Get help from a mental health professional immediately if you or someone you know is talking about being unable to:
  • Stop the pain
  • Think clearly
  • Make decisions
  • See any way out
  • Sleep, eat or work
  • Get out of depression
  • Make the sadness go away
  • See a future without pain
  • See themselves as worthwhile
  • Get someone's attention
  • Get control
If someone you know talks to you about taking their own life:
  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow them to express their feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don't lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don't dare him or her to do it.
  • Don't act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Show your support of World Suicide Day, and reflect the connectedness that the theme celebrates, by lighting a candle near a window at 8 p.m. on September 10. Allow the flicker to light the way toward a more open discussion of the mental health issues that lead to suicide.  

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