Orig Post postcrescent.com | Re-Post So-Mark 9/8/15
Sept. 10 is Suicide Prevention Day. For many people, suicide remains an abstract problem that plagues other people in other places. But, for Fox Cities high school students and parents who have lost children to suicide, it is a very real epidemic that affects us all.
Many suicide statistics are conflicting and outdated. The 2013 Centers for Disease Control Fatal Injury Report provides the most recent national statistics available. Two years ago, 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in America, accounting for one death by suicide every 12.8 minutes. Men are four times more likely to die by suicide, while women make more attempts. The most common method for suicide is guns, at 51 percent.
The highest-risk age group is age 45 to 85. That does not mean our local teens are not at risk.
National averages tell us that 1 in 5 teens has thought of suicide, 1 in 6 has made a plan, and 1 in 11 has attempted to take his or her own life. For every 25 teens who attempt, one dies, creating 6,000 teen suicides each year.
For parents, though, there is hope. We can fight teen suicides.
Fox Cities parents who have lost teens and young adults to suicide urge us not to give up. I asked what they wanted others to know. Parents I interviewed said that raising awareness about the warning signs of suicide and prevention education is critical to saving young lives. None of the parents thought suicide would happen in their family and all of them shared regrets of not doing more to help their son or daughter before it was too late.
Through their collective tragedies, we can learn five valuable lessons that may save other young lives.
Know the signs: Educate yourself about the warning signs of suicide. Think through what you could do if you encounter someone who is exhibiting suicidal behavior. Being prepared will prevent hesitating when it matters most.
Be aware: You will never regret being more connected to your son or daughter or other teens in your life. Listen to what they say. Read between the lines. Get to know their friends and develop relationships with others in their life. Ask probing questions and stay involved. Resist the temptation to “give them their space.” Snoop first and apologize later. Be on the lookout for significant changes in words, drawings, dress and behavior.
Be a friend: Don’t minimize your relationship with a person who exhibits suicidal characteristics or signs of depression. You may be the closest friend they have. Don’t look the other way. Be available and show interest. Share your concerns openly and honestly. Let them know you care. Use encouraging words and combat loneliness and feelings of worthlessness by pursuing them. Your friendship may make the difference between life and death.
Take action: Don’t be afraid to get involved. Secrets are dangerous. It is better to overreact than carry regret for a lifetime. If you sense someone is in immediate danger, call 911. If you recognize the warning signs of suicide or learn something personal that makes you think someone may try to harm himself or herself, get help. Tell a teacher, parent, law enforcement officer or other trusted adult. An anonymous welfare tip is better than no tip and may save a life.
Get help: If you have suicidal thoughts or feelings yourself, get help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others who can help. You are not alone. Tell a friend, call a helpline or contact a mental health professional. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There are people available who understand what you are going through and you can recover.
WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE
Suicide signs that warrant an immediate call to 911:
- Threatening to hurt or kill himself or herself
- Talking, drawing or writing about wanting to hurt or kill himself or herself
- Actively seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means
- Discussing a detailed plan to end his or her life
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Text messages or social media posts that threaten suicide
Contact a mental health professional or suicide help line if you hear about or see someone exhibiting one or more of these suicidal behaviors:
- Feelings of extreme hopelessness
- Feeling trapped with no way out
- Exhibiting rage, uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Extreme mood swings
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Experiencing anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Giving away personal belongings
- Dramatic mood changes
HOW TO GET HELP
For more information about suicide prevention, please call or visit these respected suicide prevention resources:
Outagamie County crisis: 800-719-4418
Winnebago County Crisis: 920-233-7707
Text “HOPELINE” to 741741