Recently multiple high-profile deaths by suicide have brought this topic into the minds of many once again. In fact, data shows that suicide rates have risen approximately 30% in this country. Along with mental illness, the stigma of openly discussing suicide may be one of the reasons for this rate increase, as many people likely do not feel comfortable speaking their truth in order to get the support they need.
So how can we prevent suicide and ensure that people who are struggling are able to get the help they need? First, as mentioned above, we need to erase the stigma of talking about suicide and other forms of mental illness. We know that people who are able to receive proper treatment may be able to overcome suicidal ideation and stop themselves from taking action. There are also other more obvious ways to prevent suicide, such as restricting access to lethal means (i.e. firearms, medications, bridges).
Most of all, we need to be open and also mindful of how we discuss suicide so that those who are struggling are able to process their feelings and find a path forward out of their pain. In times like this when suicide is all over the news, there may be a copycat phenomenon wherein those who may have been on the edge feel empowered to take action. Being sensitive to the impact of our words on others is essential to minimizing stigma and preventing a “suicide contagion”.
If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline may be reached at 800-273-8255. Main St. Psychiatry is also available to provide psychiatric treatment and psychotherapy to those who may need it. Call us at 815-526-3781 for an appointment.
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