Providing help for someone with suicidal thoughts
When celebrity chef and travel television personality Anthony Bourdain committed suicide in 2018 at age 61, the world was taken aback because it seemed like Bourdain was on top of the world. Many well-known people have committed suicide, including Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Margot Kidder, and Kate Spade. In 2021, "Dawson's Creek" writer Heidi Ferrer committed suicide after a year-long battle with COVID-19.
Those close to people who have taken their own lives often wonder what they could have done to help. Although suicidal thoughts are not exclusive to the rich and famous, the tales of celebrities who take their own lives serve as sobering reminders that even those with fame, money and success may still fall into depths of depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Suicide is a public health problem that affects people from all walks of life. Various factors can contribute to thoughs of suicide, and promoting supportive behaviors and improving education can reduce the numbers of suicides and suicide attempts. Consider these statistics, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Government of Canada.
· Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.
· More than 47,500 Americans took their own lives in 2019.
· In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, and 1.4 million made an attempt.
· More than 10 Canadians die by suicide every day.
· Suicide rates are on the rise in the United States, increasing by 33 percent since 1999.
· For every death by suicide, at least seven to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss.
While certain instances of suicide seemingly come out of the blue, there are certain warning signs that may be present. Recognizing these signs can help people get prompt assistance. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that the following are some signs that a person may be having suicidal thoughts.
· Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.
· Mentioning feelings of hopelessness or indicating there is no reason to live.
· Speaking of great guilt or shame.
· Acting very anxious or agitated.
· Displaying feelings of unbearable emotional or physical pain.
· Searching for legal ways of killing oneself.
· Taking great risks that could lead to death.
· Using alcohol or drugs more often.
· Saying goodbye to family or friends and giving away important possessions.
· Displaying extreme mood swings.
Suicidal thoughts are an emergency and taking action can save lives and prevent injuries. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says if a person believes someone may be thinking about suicide the following actions should be taken.
· Call 911, if danger for self-harm is imminent.
· Ask the person if he or she is thinking about suicide. Listen without judgment.
· Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
· Stay with the person until additional help arrives.
· Call SAMHSA's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK or text the Crisis Text Line's number (741741).
Suicidal thoughts or actions are symptoms of extreme distress and should not be ignored.