The world can be a very scary, unkind place. If you were gone, would anyone notice? Would anyone miss you?
You bet they would.
And there are people who have been to that dark place and have come back and who fight to stay out of it. Every day. And there are people who have not been to that dark place but they understand and want to listen. And there are those you love you no matter what—even if you don’t love yourself right now.
So please stay.
Today is National Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, suicide is the second leading cause of death in kids age 10 to 24. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists suicide among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. And last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that in 2020, someone would take their life every 20 seconds.
Every. 20. Seconds.
Firearms. Hanging. Suffocation. Poisoning. Overdose. Those are the top ways people choose to end their lives. Whether the depression is clinical, or it comes as a result of bullying, abuse, or other outside factors, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline says there are common signs to watch for, including:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
#BeThe1To Save a Life
If you know someone who is struggling right now, you can be the difference. The #BeThe1To website offers a five-step action plan:
Ask. Listen. Be direct; asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Listen; make sure you take their answers seriously, especially if they indicate they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Be there. Being there for someone physically or over the phone give them a connectedness and can help break their isolation. Make sure you’re going to be there for them. And follow through; they are depending on you, even though they may not realize it.
Keep them safe. If they mentioned in step 1 that they are thinking of suicide, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety. Have they already done anything to try to kill themselves? Do they have a specific, detailed plan? What’s the timing for their plan? What sort of access to do they have to their planned method?
Help them connect. Provide them with a way to reach out if they are in crisis and you cannot be there, such as a national hotline, or a mental health professional. Develop a safety plan to ensure they can reach someone immediately if they need to.
Follow up. After your initial conversation, keep in touch: Leave a voicemail. Send a text. Stay connected. Find out if there is anything else you can do to help.
One more thing: Take care of yourself if you decide to support someone through this process; it can awaken some emotions within you as well. If it does, remember—help is there for you, too.
Because you are not alone.
Because you matter.