Every 11 minutes someone dies by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you may feel alone. But help is available.
Suicidal thoughts are not something to be ashamed of. In fact, many people experience them at some point in their life. Nearly 5% of people over 18 reported having serious suicidal thoughts in 2019 (the most recent survey data), according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Report of suicidal thoughts for those age 18 to 25 was even higher, with nearly 12% experiencing serious thoughts of suicide in 2019 — the highest percentage of any adult age group.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Help available, and your situation and mental health can get better.
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Finding Help for Suicidal Thoughts
To get the help you need, it’s important to reach out and talk to someone about what you’re going through. Acknowledging and talking openly about suicide doesn’t make it worse. In fact, research shows talking can reduce suicidal thoughts, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
You are not on this journey alone. Here are ways you can reach out for help:
Talk to your doctor
Your primary care doctor can screen you for any health conditions that may contribute to suicidal thoughts. Nine physical conditions are linked to risk of death by suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. These are:
- Back pain.
- Brain injury.
- Congestive heart failure.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Sleep disorders.
Your doctor can also screen you for depression and other mental health disorders that can increase your risk of suicide. And they can refer you to a licensed mental health professional to begin a treatment plan if needed.
Get professional mental health help
Mental health professionals include psychologists, psychiatrists, and behavioral health therapists such as licensed clinical social works or professional counselors. They can help you talk through and process what you’re feeling and experiencing.
A therapist can also help you develop healthy coping skills for stress, depression, and dealing with chronic medical conditions. You can find a qualified therapist through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.
Sometimes, therapy isn’t enough. In this case, your treatment plan can also include lifestyle changes and prescription medication, such as anti-depressants.
Join a support group
There are support groups for many different topics. For example, trauma (such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness) can trigger feelings of depression and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Speaking and sharing with others who have similar experiences can help you process your thoughts and responses. If you’re struggling with addiction, pain, or another serious mental and physical condition, ask your doctor to recommend a related support group.
A family history of suicide can also increase your own risk of suicide. Don’t ignore past events, whether they occurred recently or years ago. Instead, consider joining a suicide bereavement support group. You can find one online through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Build a support network
Confiding in trusted friends, family, and community members can help you unload your thoughts and process what you are feeling. Strengthening and expanding your social circle can also help you feel less isolated. Relationships with friends and family are important when managing suicidal thoughts and behavior.
You can connect with people in your community by taking up a new hobby or volunteering. Connecting with others on social media can also help you feel less alone and share stories of what you’re feeling. It’s also a good place to find people similar interests so you feel less lonely.
Suicide Prevention Hotlines
If you’re in crisis, it’s important to get help right away. You do not need to be in the middle of a crisis situation to ask for counseling. Do not worry if what you are coping with is “big enough”. If you think you need help, reach out.
There are many suicide prevention hotlines to help someone dealing with emotional difficulties or thinking about suicide. Trained counselors are available for free 24/7 to get you through the crisis and provide additional support. Thoughts of suicide and self-harm can feel isolating, but it is important to remember that you are never alone. Suicide prevention hotlines include:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or chat online. Services are also available in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454 — and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing through online chat and text telephone (TTY).
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 or chat online.
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
- The Trevor Project Lifeline: A special service for LGBTQIA+ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678; or chat online.
resolve Crisis Services at UPMC Western Behavioral Health provides 24/7 counseling and support to all Allegheny residents. Call 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (796-8226) or visit our walk-in center at 333 North Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208.
For more information about mental health services at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, call 1-877-624-4100 or 412-624-1000.
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UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. UPMC Western Psychiatric is the hub of UPMC Western Behavioral Health, a network of nearly 60 community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors throughout western Pennsylvania.