dark haired suicidal woman receiving hug from while male with beard

National Suicide Prevention Week

During the week of September 6th-12th, Americans recognize Suicide Prevention month with hopes to spread awareness of the prevalence of Suicide in your community. This week is dedicated to sharing ideas of how to care for those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and provide outlets and resources for help.

Every 40 seconds, one person commits suicide in the United States. That equates to 800,000 people a year who take their own lives. In the state of Oklahoma alone, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death for all people; it is the 2nd leading cause for people ages 10-34. For every suicide, there are approximately 25 attempts. With numbers this staggering, it is important family members, coworkers, and friends are aware of the warning signs for suicidal thoughts in the people we are surrounded by. The following list of risk factors raise our awareness of who may be of higher risk. 

Risk Factors

Every suicide is different and is typically a result of different risk factors. These risk factors may include:

  • History of a mental health problems, especially clinical depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment or abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Local epidemics of suicide or graphic, sensationalized accounts of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Relationship or intimate partner conflict
  • Stressful life events (death, divorce, job loss, legal trouble)
  • Prolonged stress (harassment, bullying, chronic pain, homelessness)
  • Easy access to lethal methods, including firearms and drugs
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

Protective Factors

It can be difficult to notice when someone may be close to taking their own life. If you suspect someone is contemplating suicide, you can help locate or provide these Protective Factors to provide support and potentially prevent a suicide attempt:

  • Support of family, friends and others (counselors, managers, etc.)
  • The presence of an intimate, supportive partner
  • Church attendance and participation in religious activities
  • Religious coping (prayer, worship, meditation, Scripture, meeting with spiritual leaders, etc.)
  • Moral and spiritual objections to suicide
  • Moral and spiritual sense of responsibility to family, God, etc.
  • Beliefs that aid survival or coping with trials such as “I am loved,” “I am not alone,” and “I can overcome.”
  • Problem solving skills and ability to regulate one’s own emotional response
  • Personal strengths such as persistence, resilience, hope, etc…
  • Family cohesion

Prevention

Ultimately, suicide can be a difficult topic to discuss with anyone. If you or a loved one are struggling with coping with external factors that induce suicidal thoughts, remember help and support are here for you. Ways to help prevent suicide include:

  • Strengthen economic supports such as housing stabilization and household financial security.
  • Strengthen access and delivery of care including mental health care and insurance
  • Create protective environments with reduced access to lethal means and excessive alcohol.
  • Promote connectedness with peer norm programs and community engagement
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Identify and support those at risk with possible crisis intervention and re-attempt prevention courses.

Whether you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, know that there is help and support available. You are cared for and not alone. If you do wish to speak to someone about your current mental health needs, your CCMH Providers are here to help as we all navigate these challenging times. 


Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/fastfact.html

Helping Prevent Suicide: A Three-Part Series from Chaplain Paul Gore (PDF)

Seven Ways to Support a Survivor of Suicide Loss

On November 17th, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is observed. No one wants to have a connection to this day. Grief and loss are difficult enough to experience without the shock of someone we love taking their own life.

Those that are left behind after suicide have a difficult journey ahead of them. They may also feel a wide variety of emotions. These emotions may include sadness to anger to even unnecessary guilt if suicide loss survivors feel they should have done something to prevent the loss from taking place. They need much support from friends and family. Here are seven tips to show suicide loss survivors you care as they walk their grief journey.

 

Be very careful with your words.

 

Sometimes some of the cliche statements made when someone experiences a loss have the opposite effect of what we intended. Telling someone that their loved one “is in a better place” for example, may be painful even if they believe that statement deep down. Such statements seem dismissive as if suicide loss survivors should just “get over it”.

Also, don’t try to tell a loss survivor that he or she should feel differently. Guilt is a very common feeling with loss, and it will pass although it may take awhile. Statements such as “No one blames you” are better than “You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

You may be tempted to avoid the situation to avoid saying the wrong thing. This can hurt and seem dismissive too. A heartfelt look, hug and an “I’m sorry” can go much further than you realize.

 

Let loss survivors lead the conversations.

 

Allow suicide loss survivors to talk about the deceased person as much as they want. Don’t try to “distract” them when they want to talk about the deceased. It may not be comfortable conversations for you, but remember that the grief they carry is constantly with them. Eventually the conversations will become less frequent, but know they need a listening ear from time to time.


Likewise, don’t force them to talk about it. Grief is a very personal thing. No two people handle it the same. When the loss survivor wants a distraction, allow them that as well. Grief is not over and done. It comes and goes for a long time.


Don’t try to make loss survivors  “feel better.”

 

You can’t make someone feel better when they are grieving as much as you wish you could. Suggesting they should be in a better place when it comes to dealing with their grief suggests that what happened was not a “big deal.”

You cannot force someone through grief faster either. It is a path that in some ways must be walked alone. Survivors of suicide loss as with all survivors of loss, don’t want to feel better when they begin grieving. It may take weeks, months or years before they feel like “themselves” again. A great tragedy has taken place in their lives and in many ways they can never be the same again.


Treat loss survivors as you always have.

 

Even though grief must be walked alone, that does not mean you should leave someone alone completely. Even if the loss survivor says “no” one hundred times, still invite him or her to join you on outings like you always did before. Don’t take a refusal to get out of the house personally. Even though it may seem at the time that your friendship is not important anymore, loss survivors need your friendship more than ever before. Eventually, he or she will accept your invitation again.

 

Check on loss survivors in the evening.

 

Daily routines are filled with needed distractions for loss survivors. Evenings can seem long and difficult because he or she may be alone with nothing to do but think. This is a good time to call or stop by. Small daily tasks and self care can seem overwhelming when you’re struggling with loss.  Stopping by with his or her favorite meal will be very appreciated.

 

Remember that grief doesn’t stop with the funeral.

 

Everyone else seems to “move on” after the funeral. This can make loss more difficult for those who are close to the deceased. Check on loss survivors frequently months down the road. Chances are they are still struggling, but will try to hide their feelings since everyone else is back to their routines.

 

Remember significant dates.   

 

Nothing shows someone you care more than simple acknowledgment. Know the dates that are important to him or her- birthdays, anniversaries and death dates. A simple note or card can mean a lot to him or her. Offer to accompany them to a favorite spot to share memories of their loved one or to the cemetery to place fresh flowers at the gravesite.

If you are struggling with grief, you have our sincerest sympathies. We invite you to take place in our grief education and support services. Learn more by visiting  ccmhhealth.com/pastoral-care/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.