If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, you don’t have to face these thoughts alone. There are people who care about what you’re going through and want to remind you of how much your life matters. They are ready and willing to listen to you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, and the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. There is help for you, always.
You are not alone. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and we want you to know that you are valuable, your life matters and that there is help if you or someone you care about needs it. We’re also here to educate you on how you can help if someone close to you is showing signs that suicide might be a possibility. By listening, observing and taking appropriate action, we can all play a role in making life better for those around us — possibly even saving a precious life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45,979 people died by suicide in 2020 in the United States, equating to one death every 11 minutes. 12.2 million adults are documented to have thought about suicide, with 3.2 million who made a plan and 1.2 million suicide attempts.
The suicide rate among men was four times higher than for women. People 85 years of age and older have the highest suicide rates.
For every suicide death there are four hospitalizations for suicide attempts, eight emergency room visits related to suicide, 27 self-reported suicide attempts and 275 people who seriously considered suicide.
Behind these heartbreaking numbers are people experiencing pain that they find difficult to bear — many or most of them suffering in silence. We want that to change and offer comfort that no one has to go through difficulties alone.
Suicidal Thoughts are Common
No matter who we are, we all face inevitable ups and downs in life. Going through hard times is part of being human, and so is experiencing unpleasant thoughts. Having suicidal thoughts can be a common response to hardship or loss, and they may be a side effect of an underlying medical condition that is not your fault. They can be fleeting and temporary or they can be chronic and bother you for a long time.
Having suicidal thoughts does not mean you’re morally flawed or that there’s something inherently wrong with you. What’s important is that you stay safe and that the thoughts are not acted upon.
Understanding that these thoughts are common and that you’re not alone in them is a step toward speaking up and seeking help — whether it’s for you, a family member, a friend or an acquaintance. Break the silence and help someone heal.
Signs that Someone Might be Considering Suicide
There are some telltale signs that doctors and therapists look for to gauge whether a person is in crisis. You can look and listen for these too.
If you notice any signs in yourself and you’re not in imminent danger, reach out to your primary care provider to talk about your suicidal thoughts or impulses. A doctor can help determine the underlying cause and help you heal, whether it’s from depression, severe stress, major life changes, substance use or another concern. They may prescribe medication and/or refer you to a mental health professional to help support you and get you feeling better.
If your life is in imminent danger, or you have reason to believe someone else is in imminent danger, call 911 for help immediately.
Look and listen for the following signs of suicidal ideation:
- Frequently thinking or talking about death
- Thinking or saying that one is better off dead or that others are better off without them
- Thinking or saying that dying is preferable to living
- Avoiding family and friends
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Personal or family history of suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Sleeping too much to escape reality
- Substance use in order to cope
- Forming a suicide plan
- Obtaining lethal means to carry out a plan
If any of these sound familiar, there is help right now. The National Suicide Hotline is available 24/7 at Call1-800-273-8255, or you can text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
Tips for Helping
If you notice any of the telltale signs above in someone you know, you can offer support by encouraging the person to reach out to their primary care provider or seek treatment with a mental health counselor. You can offer to help the person by researching, making phone calls or even accompanying them to an appointment. Always be respectful of their feelings and refrain from making judgmental comments. Remind them that things can and will get better.
If you think someone might be in danger, you can ask questions to safely open up the topic. Be sensitive and direct with questions similar to what a therapist would ask to determine if someone is in danger of acting on their suicidal thoughts, such as:
- How are you coping with what's going on in your life?
- Do you ever feel like giving up?
- Are you thinking about dying?
- Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
- Are you thinking about suicide?
- Have you ever thought about suicide before, or tried to hurt yourself before?
- Have you thought about how or when you'd do it?
- Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used to hurt yourself?
Offering an opportunity to talk about their feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal thoughts.
For an Emergency
If someone has attempted or is threatening suicide, seek immediate help following these guidelines:
- Don't leave the person alone
- Call 911 or your local emergency number right away — or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself
- Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose
- Tell a family member or friend right away what's going on
If a friend or loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe they might attempt suicide, don't try to handle the situation alone:
- Get help from a trained professional. The person may need to be hospitalized until the crisis has passed.
- Encourage the person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at Call1-800-273-TALK Call800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
Keeping You Healthy and Whole in Body, Mind and Spirit
At AdventHealth, we strive for your whole-person health — staying well in body, mind and spirit. Your mental health is so important to your well-being. If you find you’re having trouble coping and need support, we’re here for you. Our expert team of physicians, psychologists, counselors and social workers will care for you with the compassion that you deserve. Know that it’s okay to reach out and you’re never alone.
You can explore our mental health services here.
Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, and the Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741.