If you or a loved one is in need of immediate help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available for free, confidential, 24/7 support for people in distress.
As summer comes to a close and September draws nearer, we at The Inner You are turning our attention toward Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Though suicide prevention should be an ongoing conversation throughout the year, devoting the month of September to the cause gives us time to shed light on a mental health topic that can often be difficult – and even taboo – to discuss.
It presents the opportunity to share stories, start conversations, offer support, and connect those with suicidal ideation with treatment resources. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is about changing the culture surrounding how we talk about suicide in an effort to create a more open dialogue about it. We take the month of September to focus on Suicide Prevention Awareness so that people might feel more comfortable talking about suicide and seeking help for themselves or a loved one.
This year, on September 14, The Inner You will take part in the Southern Rhode Island Walk for Suicide Prevention Awareness. The walk serves to raise both awareness and funds to allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to conduct new research, create new educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
The Inner You partakes in the walk not only to support those who are affected by suicide, but to change the conversation around suicide. AFSP asserts that the best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and other mental health conditions.
When people feel comfortable talking about suicide, whether it affects them personally or someone close to them, it makes speaking up and seeking help more accessible. This is why we walk, this is why we raise awareness – so that no one has to suffer in silence.
While raising awareness and funds for suicide prevention are both important in changing the way that we discuss suicide and approach treatment to prevent it, there are a few ways that we can change both the conversation and the culture in our own lives and immediate communities:
Know the Warning Signs
According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), there are a number of warning signs that might indicate that someone is suicidal and in need of immediate help. If you notice one or more of these warning signs in someone, offer your support directly or tell someone in which you feel comfortable confiding your concern. Reaching out to that person to offer support and resources for help could make all the difference.
Offer Social Support
Having a strong social support system is protective in preventing suicide. When we feel like we are supported and cared for by those in our communities, we feel like we can open up about our struggles without it feeling burdensome to others. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, try to identify at least one person in your community with whom you can share those struggles. This might be a parent or guardian, sibling, friend, teacher, mentor, etc.
You are cared for and there a people in your community who want to help. If you are not personally struggling with suicidal ideation, remember that you could be that point of social support to offer a listening ear and compassionate heart to someone else. When we feel like we can lean on others for help, we can create a culture where no one feels alone in their struggles.
Asking for help can be difficult but is sometimes what we need to take care of ourselves. There is a myriad of ways to seek help – it might take the form of asking a social support person to sit with you while you call a mental health center for services, calling or online messaging the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, talking with a school counselor, or asking someone for resources.
The important thing to remember is that there is help all around us, and people and organizations who are more than willing to extend it to those who need it. When we form strong social networks and utilize the helpful resources that are available to us, we can continue to create communities that are increasingly safe.
Written by Mallory Staub