September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of suicides in this country alone are staggering and increasing yearly as documented in the last several decades.
“Nearly 40,000 people in the United States die from suicide annually, or one person every 13 minutes. This exceeds the rate of death from homicide and AIDS combined. More people die by suicide than from automobile accidents.”
The National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) says the yearly rate for suicide is even slightly higher, over 41,000 per year. Both organizations readily agree that the reasons and precipitating factors are complex, including depression, anxiety and other mood disorders often combined with environmental factors such as trauma, loss or bullying. They site the following as more common warning signs of personal behavior to watch for in order to prevent a potential suicide:
- Threats or comments about killing oneself, also known as suicidal ideation
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
These are by no means inclusive of all behaviors of persons who commit suicide, as the situations for each are complex and unique. It is true that not all suicides are preventable and that “survivor’s guilt” and the devastation for families and friends of someone who does commit suicide is immensely burdensome. If you or anyone you know has experienced suicide or a suicide-related situation, you’re probably acutely aware of the rippling pain it causes.
The opportunity to be better informed about suicide is available to all of us. To be more skilled at observing, listening, caring and being involved as a community will make us all a little safer as we navigate and occasionally stumble in this world.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8155)
Respect-Focused Therapy (RFT) is a foundation on which all modalities and techniques used in therapy can be strongly grounded, in order to produce sound, effective outcomes. This approach offers clients the opportunity to gain experiential understanding of being respected, possibly for the first time, from the therapeutic relationship and then be able to heal old wounds by creating more respect for self and others in the therapeutic process.