September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in the United States. Each year, 41,000 people die because of suicide. Suicide itself is not an act that affects only the person that committed suicide, but families, friends, and communities. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly. Dedicating a month to this topic means we get to shine God’s light and grace to a topic hidden in the shadows.
We will later share some myths about suicide, which includes it is unsafe to talk about suicide with someone who is thinking of killing themselves. Simply not true. Please talk with the individual if they are having thoughts about suicide and encourage them to get help.
What Should We Know About Suicide
There are warning signs that come with people who have suicidal thoughts.
- Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous. Treat all statements as real, no matter if it is said in a joking manner or the fiftieth time.
- Increased alcohol and drug use. The goal here is to numb the pain, but due to substance use, people tend to act without thinking and many die from this mixture.
- Suicide is a very angry gesture which can initially present as abnormal aggression.
- Talking, writing or thinking about death often.
If you are concerned about someone thinking about suicide, please talk with them and get help. If you can, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If the person is unwilling to talk or seek help, contact the police via 911.
If you have not checked out our list of awareness months and weeks throughout the year, we have a whole article updating you on when they are so your agency or church can be ahead of the game.