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Mood changes such as depression, loss of interest, humiliation, irritability, anxiety, aggression or rage should not be ignored.


What Should You Do?

When you suspect someone you know is feeling suicidal, do not ignore it! The first step is to gather local suicide crisis resources to share with the person when you talk to him or her. Begin a conversation with the person. Provide concrete examples of signs that are prompting you to ask about suicide. This makes it more difficult for the person to dismiss your concerns and deny he or she is troubled. Immediately after listing clear signs, directly ask if the person is considering suicide – for example, say: “Sometimes when people feel like you do, they are thinking of suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?” Talking about suicide does not put the idea into someone’s head. It often gives the suicidal person a sense of relief and shows your willingness to discuss it frankly. If you ask, “Are you thinking about ending your life?” and the person answers, “Yes,” stay calm and don’t leave the person until further help is involved. If the person doesn’t answer with an absolute “Yes,” listen for the reasons they share for both living and dying. Remind him he won’t always feel this way. Let him know you care about him and are taking him and his feelings very seriously. Ask if he has access to any prescription medications or weapons. (Firearms account for nearly 50 percent of all suicide deaths, says the AFSP.) Together, create a safety plan: Who will the person call if she feels suicidal again while waiting to see a mental health professional? Try to get the person to agree to promise to call someone for help. Ask if she will refrain from using alcohol or other drugs or agree to have someone monitor her use of these substances until she gets help for the underlying causes for feeling suicidal. Ask the person to promise he will not self-harm or act on any thoughts of suicide until he meets with a mental health professional. Provide the person with the resources you gathered prior to initiating the conversation. If you feel the situation is critical, take the person to the nearest ER or walk-in psychiatric crisis clinic or call 911.


What Should You NOT Say?


•  Do not ask questions in ways that indicate you want “No” for an answer: “You’re not thinking about suicide, are you?” or “You’re not thinking about doing something stupid, are you?”

•  Do not tell the person to do it. This is extremely dangerous. Do not say, “Fine! If you want to be selfish and kill yourself then go right ahead! See if I care.”

•  Do not promise secrecy.  


Sources and Resources


•  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

•  Lexington: Bluegrass Regional Mental Health Comprehensive Care Center 1-800-928-8000



GET INVOLVED


The AFSP Louisville Metro Chapter brings together people of all backgrounds in communities throughout the state to fight suicide. For more information or to volunteer, please contact:


AFSP – KENTUCKY Kentucky@afsp.org


BECOME AN ADVOCATE IN KENTUCKY

AFSP's Kentucky advocacy volunteers build relationships with public officials and advocate on behalf of sound suicide prevention policy.


To get involved, contact:Nicole Gibson Director of State Policy & Grassroots Advocacy ngibson@afsp.org

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and 44,193 Americans die by suicide annually, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Kentucky, which ranked 16th of all 50 states, was slightly above the national average of 13.26 per 100,000 people at 17.06.


Who Is at Risk?

Anyone is susceptible to feeling hopeless. Prolonged feelings of hopelessness or depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. Nationally averaged, white middle-aged men are the highest risk population, according to the AFSP. White males accounted for seven out of 10 suicides in 2015, and all men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women.


What Are Some Risk Factors?

Existing mental health issues increase one’s risk of suicidal thoughts. Depression, manic-depressive bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline or antisocial personality disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders and psychotic symptoms in context with any disorder all include possible symptoms of suicide. Substance abuse, serious or chronic health conditions and prolonged physical pain can also lead to suicidal feelings. Stressful life events – a death, divorce, job loss, harassment, bullying, relationship problems – and exposure to another person’s suicide

SUICIDE PREVENTION

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

or graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide can raise suicide risk. A family history of suicide or suicide attempts can also increase one’s likelihood of thinking of suicide.


What Are Some Warning Signs?

If someone has any of the above risk factors, keep an ear open for any talk of being a burden to others, feeling trapped, experiencing unbearable pain or loneliness, having no reason to live or thinking about killing themselves. Watch out for the following behaviors:


•  increased use of alcohol or drugs;

•  looking for ways to kill oneself via online searches;

•  acting recklessly;

•  withdrawing from activities;

•  isolation from family and friends;

•  sleeping too much or too little;

•  visiting or calling people to say goodbye; or

•  giving away prized possessions.