September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with September 10th marking the specific World Suicide Prevention Day. This is a time during each year when people particularly strive to discuss warning signs of suicidal ideation, help lines, available counseling services, the impact of suicide attempts and suicide completion, and other related issues.
While it is of course helpful to pay extra attention at times and make the effort to remind yourself of available resources, suicide prevention is not a once-a-year event. It is something that must be practiced at all times throughout the year. Part of suicide prevention involves a way of thinking that every individual should take on in their day-to-day life. Kindness, encouragement, engagement, listening, and reaching out are all things that can help a person feel more supported, which is a crucial part of suicide prevention. Loneliness, isolation, and other symptoms that go hand in hand with depression are known to exacerbate the risk of suicide. There are specific signs that we can all look for, to recognize when someone is potentially considering suicide, such as speaking about hopelessness, acting more anxious than usual, withdrawing, and focusing on death. These are very important signs to become familiar with, without a doubt. However, practicing a lifestyle of caring, kindness, and unconditional support of loved ones could potentially help prevent a person from even getting to that point, when those warning signs are expressed.
During this Suicide Prevention Month, take some time to think about your interactions with others. Maybe go out of your way to do something kind for someone else, or to reach out to a friend who has been going through a hard time. Someone does not need to be actively suicidal to appreciate love and support. We often care deeply for others, but struggle to show it, or feel it is unnecessary to show it because we think they already know how we feel. But sometimes it is imperative to remind others that we are present and ready to support them. By being there for others and expressing your gratitude and love, you will make a difference. And maybe, without ever even knowing it, you will help save someone’s life.
For more information on suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide, please visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline organization is a wonderful resource, whether you are seeking help for yourself or for others, so please be encouraged to utilize it to help someone in need, or to learn more about suicide prevention in general. Losing a loved one is always difficult, but losing someone to suicide comes with a particular kind of pain and regret. Do not doubt your ability to help others – this is a power that you always have, no matter where you are in your own life. Every word of kindness, every moment of support, every hug, and every heartfelt smile makes a difference.
By: Allison Fiete, LMHC