5 Ways to Support Suicide Prevention
In a small, upscale enclave in South Orange County, California, three adolescents—in unrelated cases—made the tragic decision in 2016 to end their lives by suicide. In 2018, already four high school teens, also in South County cities, have also died by suicide. While the reasons for the spike in teen suicides are not cohesive or yet known, alarm bells are sounding in these suburban communities. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates among teens and young adults has nearly tripled since the 1940s, with 4,600 young lives lost each year.
Still, the highest rate of suicide occurs among white, middle-age males, accounting for 70% of suicides in 2016. In all, 123 lives are lost to suicide each and every day in the U.S. Clearly, more needs to be done to reverse this trend, and the 5 ways to support suicide prevention listed here is a great place to start.
5 Ways to Support Suicide Prevention and Save Lives
- Educate students, parents, and teachers. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) produces both education materials and films entitled More than Sad, designed to increase awareness of mental health issues and signs of pre-suicidal behaviors. The AFSP has tailored the materials for each segment specifically. The program for high school students teaches them to recognize the signs of depression in themselves or other students. The program for parents teaches them to not only to recognize the signs of depression in their child, but also to initiate getting mental health intervention for the child. The program for teachers teaches them to recognize mental distress in students and refer them for help.
- Volunteer on a suicide hot line. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—(800) 273-8255—is staffed with professional counselors who have undergone at least a hundred hours of training prior to picking up a call for help. If you are a mental health professional, see about joining the Lifeline to help prevent loss of lives. Many local suicide hot lines are staffed by volunteers who have the right temperament in high stress situations to assist people in distress. If you don’t feel manning a hotline is for you, there are plenty of other support activities related to the operations of the suicide hotlines, such as workshop facilitators, crisis center volunteers, and administration volunteers.
- Organize a community-based event. The AFSP also produces a community-based program entitled Talk Saves Lives, and conducts presentations across the country. This program educates the community about the general facts about suicide, the research they have gathered about suicide prevention, and proactive measures the community can take to fight suicide. Suicide impacts everyone, whether it is a family member, a colleague, or a student at school, everyone has been touched by the tragedy of suicide. Why not gather as a community and learn about the warning signs and what steps should be taken to prevent a death.
- Recognize signs in the workplace. Certain professions have much higher rates of stress and depression, translating to a higher suicide than average. These professions include farmers, fishermen, forestry, electricians, construction trades, mechanics, architects, police, firefighters, corporate executives, lawyers, and the medical profession. The highest female suicide rates were among police, firefighters, corrections officers, and the legal profession. Ensuring that mental health services are readily available, and an absence of stigma attached to employees in need of those services, will help support suicide prevention.
- Join the Suicide Prevention Awareness Facebook Community. This thriving Facebook community of over 150,000 people is a good resource for sharing stories, information about suicide prevention and awareness, and support. They even sell products (t-shirts and such) that those who have been touched by suicide can purchase. This Facebook community is very active, with posts gaining hundreds of shares, so it is a great forum for spreading information about suicide prevention.
As a nation, if we put these 5 ways to support suicide prevention to work we can help stem the rising time that has claimed far too many lives.
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