Suicide is a difficult topic, but it’s too important to ignore. It’s likely someone you know has attempted or committed suicide or has had suicidal thoughts. Suicide has been on the rise, with an increase of more than 30% since 2000. More than 700,000 people died by suicide in 2019. And, of course, an unknown number thought of or attempted it.
Let that sink in. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, which offers an excellent opportunity to shine a light on this topic and how we can support others. Of course, no one can fully know what someone else is going through. Still, we can all listen and communicate hope during a conversation with someone who’s having a tough time.
Yes, you can help!
Here are some ways you can help others feel seen, heard and loved:
Be sensitive to the moment. Pay attention to your own state as well as the state of others you encounter. Staying aware, present and sensitive to the moment can help us notice any signs we might otherwise overlook.
Practice empathy. Listen from a place of compassion, kindness and grace for yourself and others.
Reach out. Offer someone a safe and comfortable space to talk. The amount of hope that can be conveyed in any exchange can be profound.
Signs someone might be suicidal
The reasons why someone may attempt to or take their life are unique to that individual. However, the following lists some situations, conditions and factors that might put someone at greater risk for suicide:
Any unusual changes in behavior
Changes in sleeping patterns
Access to lethal means
Being exposed to another person’s suicide, past suicide attempts or a family history of suicide
Suffering from a traumatic brain injury
Living with a chronic or terminal illness
Having a mental illness, particularly depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder or substance use disorder
Stressful life situations, including financial, bullying or relationship problems
Sudden stressful or traumatic situations
Childhood trauma and abuse
Read more about suicide warning signs here.
Actions to take
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, it’s an emergency! Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or call 911.
Outside of emergencies, if you or someone you know could use additional support, the team at Synchronous Health is ready to serve you. Visit sync.health/mnps or call 615-748-0625.* "If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. You will be greeted with open arms. We can walk through the unsettling together,” says Synchronous Health Specialist, Dr. Nicole Bryant, LCSW.
Sources: American Psychological Association, World Health Organization
* Currently the Synchronous Health Connect With Karla program is available only to those enrolled in the Certificated Employee Health Plan. However, the ComPsych Employee Assistance Program, available to all MNPS employees and their household family members, can also help.