September 6 marks the beginning of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and before I fully dive into the content of this blog post here are some resources in case of a suicide related crisis or emergency:

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

This year with all of us facing a global pandemic and the challenges it represents, Suicide Prevention Awareness month takes on a new and heightened meaning.  People around the world are being impacted by COVID-19, with the loss of loved ones, loss of job and income, and the loss of our sense of daily life normalcy. The CDC reported that in June 2020 10% of people in a sample of 5,470 people have seriously considered suicide in the previous 30 days. It is imperative now more than ever that we address the stigma surrounding suicide, so that we can continue to support each other. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) talks about five common myths about suicide:

  1. Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
    1. Dr. Kristen Fuller states it very clearly with her remark, “many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness.” There can be situational stresses such as relationship issues, evictions, financial or legal issues that can lead someone to believe that suicide is a viable alternative.
  2. Myth: Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.
    1. NAMI reports that active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation specific. 
  3. Myth: Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.
    1. Often there are both verbal and behavioral signs that precede suicide
  4. Myth: People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out
    1. Often the motivator for suicide is suffering and an individual’s sense of hopelessness that their situation cannot and will not get better. 
  5. Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
    1. Being able to discuss the thought of suicide can actually open the door for the individual to seek help, rethink their opinion and subdue feelings of isolation.

If you or someone you know are contemplating suicide the experience can feel overwhelming, but talking about it with the right people, whether it is loved ones or trained professionals, can help. These are extremely difficult times and we do not have to go through them alone, but the first step is being able to express it.