This week is National Suicide Prevention Week (9/10-16, 2017).
How to Talk About Suicide
Recognizing and Responding to Suicide
Suicide occurs across and within all races and cultures.
Within Indian Country, the rates are higher than in the general population. The subject of suicide carries the stigmas of depression and death, the fear that just talking about it will make it happen, and other stigmas, including:
- Suicide is a cry for help
- When a person decides to end his or her life, there is nothing that can be done to stop him or her
- A person won’ commit suicide if he or she has children, just bought a new car, or is just having a “difficult time”
The reality is that suicide is preventable, and help is available.
People may not show any signs of the intent to kill themselves before they commit suicide. But there are behaviors that may indicate a person is at risk for killing themselves, and it is important to be aware of warning signs and risk factors. If you notice any warning signs for suicide, starting a conversation with the person may save their life.
Learn to recognize the warning signs:
- Hopelessness; feeling like there is no way out
- Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
- Feeling like there is no reason to live
- Rage or anger
- Engaging in risky activities
- Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
- Withdrawing from family and friends
The presence of any of the following signs requires immediate attention:
- Thinking about hurting or killing themselves
- Looking for ways to die
- Talking about death, dying, or suicide
- Self-destructive or risk taking behavior, especially when it involves alcohol, drugs, or weapons
How to Begin the Conversation
Before talking with someone you are concerned about, have suicide crisis resources available, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), or numbers and addresses of local crisis lines or treatment centers. Mention what signs prompted you to ask about how they are feeling. Mention the warning signs that prompted you to ask the person about how they are feeling, the words used, or behavior displayed (Indian Health Services, 2017).