September is Suicide Prevention Month – which aims to create hope through action by creating safe spaces for those struggling with the goal of preventing suicide altogether. The issue is far-reaching. Nearly 46,000 individuals died by suicide in 2020, and 46% of those people had a known mental health condition. Although mental health issues and illnesses, like depression, can lead to suicide, there are many reasons someone may decide to take their own life. However, most people believe that suicide can be prevented. In fact, a survey from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention showed that 93% of people think suicide can be prevented. Therefore, when someone decides to take their own life, loved ones are often left asking if they could have done something.
People who have lost a loved one through suicide can feel a range of emotions when they get the news, like shock, anger, guilt, or grief. It’s vital to provide support to those affected in the aftermath of this event. If you’re struggling, below are a few ways to seek help:
- Seek professional help – Talking to a licensed psychologist can help you learn to manage your thoughts and feelings. Teletherapy is a great option, as it allows the therapist to virtually meet you where you’re most comfortable. Wait times for virtual therapy area also generally much shorter than for in-person visits, making it a quick and convenient way to get help. For those who require medication, online psychiatry can also be an option. There are also digital health tools that can be extremely helpful and easily accessible when you need ongoing support but don’t require observation or intervention. These methods are a convenient, and oftentimes a preferred choice for many individuals in need of care since there’s no commute time to and from an office or clinic.
- Please note, although teletherapy is a great resource, it is not an emergency service. If you or a loved one need immediate help, please go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
- Share your feelings – Expressing your emotions to trusted friends or family members can help you pass through the different stages of grief. Allow yourself the space to do whatever you need to do in this difficult time: cry, scream, or journal. Nothing is off limits to help you cope and process.
- Join a bereavement support group – Surrounding yourself with others with shared experiences can help you feel less alone. There are even support groups specifically for people who lost a loved one by suicide. This can be a healing space to not only share your story, but also hear the experiences of others, which can help you heal.
Supporting Suicide-Related Crises
If a crisis arises, friends and family members may be caught off guard and might not know how to defuse the situation to ensure their loved one doesn’t act on their suicidal thoughts. The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares great tips on how to handle an event if it occurs. These include removing objects that someone could use to end their life, talking openly and honestly in a calm manner, and expressing support or concern.
An incredible resource for people struggling with their mental health or feeling suicidal is utilizing the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. This is a 24/7/365 national network of crisis centers with trained professionals who offer confidential emotional support to anyone who needs it, especially those who feel distressed or suicidal. The lifeline provides immediate assistance and counseling in a time of crisis and can help you seek out resources in your area.
There is Hope
Suicide is usually preventable. One of the first ways to prevent suicide is to talk about it. By talking about it, we are actively working to end the stigma around it. You may feel uncomfortable or awkward talking about suicide with friends or family members, but it’s important to not only start, but to continue an open and honest dialogue. And remember, there is hope.