September is National Suicide Prevention Month, an annual month-long campaign to inform and increase awareness around suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide.
According to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, 1,836 Ohioans die by suicide in an average year, and nearly 12% of those are young people. Those numbers are bad enough, but 2020 hasn’t exactly been an “average” year, and it’s not over yet.
On top of the usual life stressors that can overwhelm people, we are dealing with unprecedented events in this country: COVID-19, financial uncertainty, and social unrest. As a counselor, I have seen people becoming more and more stressed as this year has unfolded. This makes the subject of suicide prevention even more pertinent in these times.
Suicide risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their own life.
One risk factor is a person’s health. This can include mental health; severe, chronic medical conditions; and chronic pain issues.
Another risk factor is a person’s environment. This includes an individual’s stress levels related to personal loss, relationship problems, financial struggles, traumatic events, or other life changing events. Another environmental factor is a person’s access to the lethal means of suicide, including firearms and drugs.
Historical risk factors include previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, and childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma.
Suicide warning signs often precede actual attempts. Most people who take their own lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say, or what they do.
If a person talks about feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, or feeling trapped, they may be contemplating suicide.
Behaviors that may signal risk include increased use of alcohol or drugs, researching suicide methods, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say “goodbye”, and giving away prized possessions.
Ironically, some people who have decided to end their lives actually seem to “improve”, primarily because they think they have found a solution to their problems.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, you can call the Crisis Hotline at 800-826-1306. There is also a Crisis Text Line you can reach out to by simply texting “4hope” to 741741.
A way to learn more about suicide prevention is through programs such as Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR). This training teaches people to:
Question....a person about suicide;
Persuade....the person to get help; and
Refer..........the person to the appropriate resource.
If you are interested in learning more about this program, the Huron County Board of Mental Health & Addiction Services is offering virtual QPR trainings throughout the month of September. More information on dates and times may be found on the MHAS Board website (http://huroncountymhas.org) or you can call them at: 419-681-6268.
About Ken Murray
Ken Murray, Ph.D., LPCC-S provides counseling services to children, adults, and families addressing a wide range of mental health concerns. Ken specializes in providing counseling for children and families and has experience with providing counseling for parent and leading parenting classes. For more information about Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.