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  • Information on Suicide for National Suicide Prevention Week

    Published: 09/09/2013

    Suicide remains in the top 10 causes of death in the United States. National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8 through September 14. David Greenspan, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Einstein Medical Center and Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment, offers this information:

    The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them.

    Warning Signs of Suicide:

    Talking about death or dying, ‘tying up loose ends’ or seeking out things that can be used in suicide, such as weapons or drugs.

    Withdrawing from friends and social activities, or engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse, reckless driving, etc., particularly if these are different from the person’s usual behavior.

    Feeling hopeless about the future, and feelings of self-hatred, worthlessness, guilt or shame, significantly increase the risk.

    These signs are more dangerous if the person is recently alone, has a known mental illness such as schizophrenia, a mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, has a family history of suicide, or has physical health problems or disabilities.

    Common Myths About Suicide:

    People who talk about suicide won’t really do it. FALSE. Do not ignore suicide threats.

    Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy. FALSE. Most people who try to kill themselves are depressed or despairing and not always known to have a mental illness.

    Only the poor and downtrodden commit suicide. FALSE. Suicidal thoughts don’t discriminate. Many who are intelligent, successful, and appear to ‘have it all’ are at just as much risk of trying to kill themselves.

    There’s no way to stop a person determined to kill him/herself. FALSE. Most suicidal people do not want to die, they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, even if it’s overpowering, does not last forever.

    Suicide Prevention Tips:

    If you see warning signs of suicide, let the person know you’re concerned and want to help. Let him/her know their life is important to you and the way they are feeling will change.

    Listen and let the person unload their despair or vent their anger. Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient and accepting. Offer hope and reassurance that the suicidal feelings are temporary.

    Help the person get professional help. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Help them get to a treatment facility, a doctor’s appointment or to an emergency room. Offer your support to help the person follow the professional advice, for instance, if a doctor prescribes medication, make sure the person takes it as directed.

    Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as healthy diet, plenty of sleep, getting out in the sun for at least 30 minutes a day, and exercising which releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

    Help the person make a safety plan with steps he/she promises to follow during a crisis. It should identify triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss. Include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

    If you think the risk of suicide is high, call a local crisis center, dial 911 or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, knives, pills, alcohol and other dangerous objects from the home and do not leave the person alone.

  • Communications Team