Sept. 11, 2022 (IOLA, Kan.) – Throughout September, Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is observing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Nearly everyone will feel the ripple effects of suicide in their lifetime. Those left behind experience grief, sorry and, often, regret. But, repeatedly, experiences show that suicide is preventable when caught in time to help. To build awareness about suicide prevention, it’s essential to know the warning signs and risk factors.
10 Warning Signs
- Depression: Frequently, suicide is accompanied by long-lasting sadness, despair and a feeling of hopelessness. People who seem to withdraw from family and friends or isolate themselves from usual social activities may be exhibiting signs they are thinking about ending their lives.
- Untreated mental health condition: It’s common for people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders or mood disorders (along with other mental health conditions) to experience thoughts of suicide. It’s even more likely that people with undiagnosed or untreated issues may consider suicide.
- Substance use: Any kind of substance abuse can increase the likelihood that a person may consider ending his/her life. When a person’s substance use increases or escalates in severity, it’s a strong warning sign that something is amiss and needs attention.
- Reckless behavior: It’s a warning sign that someone may be having thoughts of ending their life when they begin engaging in reckless behavior or taking unnecessary and excessive risks, such as participating in unsafe sex or driving while under the influence. It’s especially worrisome when someone who normally acts with caution and care acts with reckless abandon without caring about the consequences.
- Statements about suicide: People who say they want to die usually mean it. Anyone who says they are considering killing themselves is definitely at risk. Suicidal people may say they feel hopeless or they have no reason to live. Searching online for suicide methods or buying a gun can also indicate someone is a serious threat to themselves.
- Final preparations: Making a will or setting up life insurance policies is responsible adulting. However, when someone sets about to making final preparations it may, also, be a sign they are planning to hurt themselves. Other indicators of final preparations might include: giving away prized belongings and informing others about their life insurance policies, will, burial arrangements or who will get their assets. Another sign can be making it a point to clean their house or garage, being sure to not leave any loose ends to burden their loved ones.
- Unusual display of emotion/affection: A person who suddenly makes it a point to share their love and affection for a friend or family member may be showing a sign that they are considering suicide. Many times, people who are thinking of ending their lives will unexpectedly visit family members and friends and deliver an exaggerated goodbye when they see someone they care about. These behaviors can be signs they are in severe distress.
- Trauma/life crisis: Many people who think about committing suicide have a history of serious childhood trauma; physical, emotional or sexual abuse; neglect; or bullying in their lives. It’s also common for those on the verge of ending their lives to have recently experienced some other circumstances that makes them especially vulnerable: the loss of a loved one; unemployment; money crisis; or a relationship break up.
- Chronic/fatal health condition: Anytime someone is diagnosed with a severe health condition, it can impact their mental health. If they are in constant pain or discomfort, it increases the chances they’ve considered suicide. Many people worry about how their health condition will continue to affect them, fearing they will be/are a burden to their loved ones.
- Sudden calm or cheer: It’s relatively common for someone contemplating suicide to seem suddenly calm, at peace and, maybe, in good cheer. But it can be a warning sign of suicide that someone who is usually anxious, depressed or upset is relaxed and good with the world. It’s extremely possible they are no longer at war with themselves and have settled on their decision to end their life.
There is not just one single warning sign that can help prevent suicide. But, by being aware and making connections with others, it’s possible to notice the signs that are very clear indicators that someone is not ok.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of ending their life, encourage them to reach out for help. One resource is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline3, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is now an easy-to-remember 24/7 resource for reaching trained crisis counselors who can help with suicide, mental health and substance use-related crises. (988 replaces a longer and harder to remember 10-digit phone number.) Much like calling 911 in an emergency, people in crisis or those having thoughts of suicide may call or text 988 for immediate assistance during anytime of the day or night.
About Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center
The mission of the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is to provide, advocate and coordinate quality mental health care, services and programs for people in its service area. Our vision is to improve the qualify of life in southeast Kansas. We offer services and programs in the following counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Linn, Neosho and Woodson. Our core services include outpatient psychiatry, therapy, consultation, chemical abuse counseling, case management, educational and skill-building groups, specialty training, physical healthcare coordination and 24/7 crisis intervention services. For more information, visit www.sekmhc.org.