Suicidal thoughts, like mental health issues, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. The 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., suicide claimed more than 47,000 American lives in 2017, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the loss. Often, those suicide loss survivors are left in the dark, with feelings of shame and stigma that can prevent them from talking openly and properly processing grief.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to share resources and openly discuss stories to shed light on an issue that affects so many in our community. At SUN, our team is ready 24 hours a day to help those affected by suicide, from treatment programs for individuals with suicidal ideation to friends and families who need resources. If you need help, call SUN first.
If you or a loved one is currently experiencing a psychiatric emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. You can also call us at 713-796-2273.
Learn More About the Risk Of Suicide From NAMI
It can be frightening if someone you love talks about suicidal thoughts. It can be even more frightening if you find yourself thinking about dying or giving up on life. Not taking these kinds of thoughts seriously can have devastating outcomes, as suicide is a permanent solution to (often) temporary problems.
According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone. Comments or thoughts about suicide — also known as suicidal ideation — can begin small like, “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nothing matters.” But over time, they can become more explicit and dangerous.
- Increased substance use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help:
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts
- Intoxication — more than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence at the time of death
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Gender — although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss