Suicide is a serious thing, and unfortunately many people commit suicide. Each year, 34,000 people commit suicide—that’s one death by suicide every 15 minutes. It is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults ages 12-24. More youth die from suicide than from cancer, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia and the flu combined. While there is no definitive cause of suicide, there are signs and factors to look out for and ways to step in to help prevent suicide.
Many people who commit or contemplate suicide suffer from depression or another mental health condition. For many, that depression goes undiagnosed or untreated. People with anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are also at a higher risk. People’s lives could also play a role in their risk of suicide. Stressful events like a death in the family or a job loss; prolonged stress from bullying, harassment or relationship problems; and a previous exposure to suicide can all increase a person’s risk.
Pay attention to excessive sadness or feelings of hopelessness that could be a sign of depression. People contemplating suicide could also have rapid mood swings and extreme anger. Listen to see if someone talks about feeling trapped, like a burden, or like they have no purpose. Those suffering from depression may have trouble sleeping, lack of interest in things they used to love, and a loss of appetite. People contemplating suicide may withdraw from friends and family or isolate themselves. Abusing substances like drugs or alcohol is a sign of increased risk of suicide. Of course, if someone talks about not wanting to live or wanting to kill themselves, it should be taken seriously.
So what should you do if you or someone you know is at risk for suicide? First, if you’re having thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately. You can call Heart-Centered Counseling at 970-498-0709 or, in case of an emergency, you can call 911. If you feel talking to someone right away might help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of the day or night. Please do get the person help from a trained professional. Some states allow people contemplating suicide to be hospitalized—even against their will—if they’re perceived to be a danger to themselves.
Suicide is serious, and if someone you love shows warning signs or risk factors for suicide, don’t brush it off.