When an individual commits suicide, it can have long lasting effects on families and their communities.
Jeffrey Magill, MS, CTR, of the Crisis Training Institute, discusses the warning signs and prevention. The Crisis Training Institute is part of re:solve Crisis Network and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 40,000 people in the United States die by suicide each year. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that nearly 8.4 million individuals 18 or older in the United States experience thoughts of suicide on a yearly basis and of those individuals, 2.2 million have developed a plan of how they might die by suicide.
Common myths exist and sometimes, suicide is viewed as an unmentionable subject in our society. For example, people may believe that by asking an individual if he or she is having suicidal thoughts, they may be planting the idea into that person’s thoughts. When in reality, asking a person directly about his or her thoughts can lead to a conversation about an individual’s potential risk for suicide.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Some of those conditions include depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. While major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis often associated with suicide and suicidal behaviors, depression is treatable in most cases.
Warning Signs Exhibited by a Potentially Suicidal Individual
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
Suicide Prevention – What can you do?
The goal is to recognize warning signs, reduce risk factors, and to increase protective factors that may help promote life during a time of crisis.
Encourage and support family and friends with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders to get help BEFORE a suicidal crisis ensues.
If you have concerns that someone may be at risk there are multiple resources you can contact:
- In Allegheny County, call re:solve Crisis Network at 1-888-7 YOU CAN or 1-888-796-8226 and talk with a trained professional.
- In other Pennsylvania Counties
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800–273–TALK (8255)
- Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
- Find information about intervention programs that are offered by the Crisis Training Institute.