I no longer accept smiles as an indication that someone is okay.
The weekend I visited my sister and brother-in-law, he was all smiles. Circumstances in his life had improved, he appeared happy with his involvement and responsibilities in the church, and all the time I was there I saw no signs that he was deeply troubled.
A few months later he hung himself.
Today, October 10, 2019, is World Mental Health Day. This year the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is focusing this day on suicide prevention by asking that everyone take “40 seconds” to make suicide prevention a priority.
According to the WFMH, someone takes their own life about every 40 seconds, with suicide ranking second as “the leading cause of death” for teens and young adults ages 15-29.
But age is not a hinderance. I’ve had more than one patient over 60 years old who needed a round-the-clock sitter because they were thinking of suicide or had made at least one attempt.
ASK THE QUESTION
“Are you thinking about suicide?” “Do you want to harm yourself in any way?”
It’s okay to ask. It’s okay to talk about it.
Research, such as this review published on the PubMed database on the NCBI U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, stated, “Our findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce, rather than increase suicidal ideation….”
Asking questions lets the person know that they’re not alone, that someone cares. Seeing signs that someone is suffering and avoiding a conversation for fear of putting suicidal thoughts into their head means a lost opportunity to get them the help they need.
WE CAN ALL HELP; IT JUST TAKES 40 SECONDS
Check in on a friend, family member, coworker, or someone in your social media circle who may be going through life changes and see how they’re doing.
There are signs that their struggle may be getting harder for them to handle:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- A change in mood/activity – the change could be a gradual one.
- Hearing a sense of feeling trapped, useless, and a burden when you talk with them, or see their posts on social media.
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Saying “I wish I were dead;” “I want to kill myself;” “I don’t belong here anymore.”
- Withdrawal – particularly when it’s a family/friend who used to keep in contact
No matter how much a person smiles, gets up and goes to work, or labors to alleviate someone else’s pain, we can never know how much they’re suffering inside unless we get involved.
Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semi-Colon, created the suicide and there’s someone who wants to listen.
In 2017 she lost her own battle with depression and killed herself.
SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline – a 24/7, confidential hotline: 1-800-273-8255; for Spanish: 1-888-628-9454; for deaf/hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889.
- Crisis Textline: https://www.crisistextline.org : In U.S. – Text Home to 741741; In Canada – Text to 686868; In the UK – Text to 85258. Free, live trained counselors 24/7. Or click on the website and click on “Tap to Text.”
- Social Media: If someone’s post is clearly threatening suicide, first call 911; then report it:
Instragram: Go to the three vertical dots at the top of their post; Click on Report; Select Inappropriate which will lead to Self-Injury and alert IG authorities.
Facebook: Click this link to find Facebook’s reporting method.
This article offers additional links to other social media outlets to help report someone who is threatening suicide.
Project Semicolon, offering hope on local, statewide and international levels, offers an online safe haven for people to share their stories and connect with others. Please click the link and find out how you can help.
Everyone has a story; and everyone’s story matters.
We can all help save a life.