September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, while dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the stresses that come with it, it is important to remember that we are not alone, even while physical distancing.
While there is no single circumstance which leads an individual to die of suicide, the risk factors include social isolation, overuse of alcohol and other substances, verbalizing feelings of incurable physical or emotional pain, unemployment , little to no support system and having an untreated mental health condition. In addition, factors such as unmanaged Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a history of trauma or abuse, a history of self-harm, or even a history of suicide by a family member may be risk factors for suicide.
According the Center for Disease control (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2018. Suicide was also the 10th leading cause of death in South Carolina in 2018, twice that of deaths by homicide. Adults age 45 to 54 are more likely to die by suicide and men account for 78 percent of such deaths. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for people ages 35-54.
“We can all help to prevent suicide by reaching out to those we care about and maintaining open discussions about the current life stressors we are experiencing,” said CareSouth Carolina Director of Behavioral Health Liz Kershner, MSW, LISW-CP AP. “Many are struggling to cope with issues of community unrest and to maintain emotional well-being during the COVID pandemic. We need to understand that anxiety and fears are heightened and that it can be a challenge to maintain hope. Everyone is going through something we have no idea about. If we can stay mindful of that and be especially kind to one another and aware that everyone’s struggle is unique to them. It is a time to actively listen to others and to support one another any way we can. Remember to check on your friends who seem to have it all together as they may be suffering in silence.”
One of the best ways to help someone who may be considering suicide is to ask them if they are experiencing thoughts of harming themselves in a way that may end their life.
Calmly and gently asking someone if they are having thoughts about suicide will not trigger them to have such thoughts or to attempt suicide. Instead, the compassion shown may provide the opportunity to seek additional help for what may seem like a hopeless and helpless circumstance.
Primary health care providers, behavioral health care providers and spiritual leaders are trained to discuss suicide prevention awareness with compassion and concern. Speaking with someone you trust for help and guidance is encouraged.
If you would like more information about suicide prevention please visit these websites:
- Zero Suicide at https://zerosuicide.com
- National Alliance on Mental Illness at NAMI.org
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org
To speak with a crisis counselor please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
CareSouth Carolina has a mental counselor available in each of its offices to assist people experiencing issues with depression or thoughts of suicide. If you’d like to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 1-866-498-0399.