Every year in the United States alone, around 45,000 people die by suicide. This number represents an epidemic marked by an unprecedented rise in the number of suicide deaths in the U.S. since the early 2010s.
Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue. There are an overwhelming number of contributing factors, and it affects every demographic regardless of age, race, or social class. The prevalence and universal nature of suicide merit far more discussion nationwide. Unfortunately, because it is such an unpleasant and difficult issue, it remains a taboo topic in many communities.
In the face of such overwhelming statistics, it may seem impossible to make a difference. However, through awareness and effort, individuals and communities can work together to exponentially reduce suicide.
Effective suicide prevention happens at many different levels, ranging from individual to systemic, but direct prevention begins at the individual level.
This post will take you through effective steps you can take if you or a loved one are at risk of suicide or self-harm.
Suicide intervention on an individual level most often comes from the friends or family of someone struggling with suicidal feelings. However, it’s important to note that it can also come from the person struggling as well.
Not every individual experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior will have the ability or the desire to intervene on their own behalf. But, if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, you don’t need to feel helpless in your own intervention.
Your life and your agency matter. If you feel capable of reaching out, you can start the ball rolling on your recovery and maintain some control over how and from whom you receive help.
Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for yourself:
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has provided this excellent safety plan template where you can write down a plan for if you enter crisis mode and are unable to think clearly. Share this plan with someone you trust who can recognize when you are in crisis and take action.
If you are in crisis and need help immediately, call 911 or have a friend or family member get you to mental health urgent care or an emergency room.
A suicidal person may not be capable of reaching out for help on their own. In those cases, it can fall to a friend or relative to notice the signs and intervene.
Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for a loved one:
This is not the time for tough love. Do not try to convince the person that their problems aren’t that bad or that they are selfish for wanting to take their life. They need to know you are not disappointed in them for feeling this way and that you are taking their struggle seriously.
Your loved one may be too depressed or paralyzed to take action toward healing on their own, so they may need your help to take steps for long-term prevention as well. If so, it is crucial that you follow through on finding reliable help for them from your community or a professional.
Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe.
Part of our mission is to provide community resources. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time to projects like this. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again.