Depression and worry are feelings not uncommon, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, when those feelings consume a person’s psyche more often than not, there is a need for concern.
Let’s be honest. The words “mental health” are uncomfortable. No one wants to admit they or a loved one, is “not right” or “a little off”. We ALL feel it from time to time. There has long been a stigma of fear or shame when it comes to seeking help, and the longer those feelings persist, the harder it can be to recover.
The effects of suicide go beyond the person who acts to take his or her life: it can have a lasting effect on family, friends, and communities. It does not discriminate; all genders, ages, and ethnicities are at risk. That is why September has been designated as National Suicide Prevention Month to promote that help, and hope, is readily available.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
What are the warning signs?
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, the following are signs that someone may be contemplating suicide:
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
- Talking about great guilt or shame
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
- Talking or thinking about death often
- Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order, making a will
What should you do if you or someone you know is in crisis?
- Talk to someone (a family member, a trusted friend, a doctor, or your pastor)
- Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.
- Download the Shatter the Silence app
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Progress is being made in suicide prevention efforts. Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. According to the FCC, the rules require all phone service providers to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.
You can get involved in preventing suicide. The Mississippi Department of Mental Health is hosting its 4th Annual Suicide Prevention Symposium on September 29th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is virtual and free. This year’s event is called “Fitting Suicide Prevention Into Our Changing Times”.
Click here to register.