Authored By: Gina Percival, Public Relations and Volunteer Coordinator
Everybody has been touched by suicide. It could have been either because somebody you knew attempted/committed suicide or just because you saw it reported on the news. It doesn’t matter how it happened, it is right there, touching always on the door.
Suicide is one of the major areas of concern in Utah as it is the third leading cause of death for ages 10-14, and the second leading cause of death for ages 15-44. Moreover, it has been increasing to the point that today is the 8th leading cause of death in the state, even over car accidents. Moreover, Utah has the 7th highest suicide rate in the U.S. for people aged 10 years and older. What is disturbing is that since 2007, the numbers have not only been increasing, but have tripled.
Unfortunately, there is no way of identifying one and only cause for suicide. The reasons are varied and must be assessed on a case by case basis. Usually, mental illness, elevation sickness, firearms, drug and alcohol abuse, culture, cyberbullying and harassment, sexual abuse or neglect have been recognized as the main ones, but Salt Lake County Youth Services therapists also report that feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, or social isolation should be discussed.
Suicide is always on the scope and you never know when you might have to confront it. Therefore, it is important that you know how to identify and what to do to help someone with suicidal thoughts.
Be aware if you spot any of this signs/motivations that could lead to an attempt:
• The person wants to escape from an intolerable situation
• The person is reaching out for help
• The person wants to get attention
• The person wants to get revenge
• The person believes others will be better off without him/her
• The person wants to become a martyr
• The person has been romanticizing death
Overall, you must be ready to react, so keep this in mind:
• Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble – talk about your concerns
• Be willing to listen – Allow expression of feelings – Accept feelings
• Be non-judgmental – Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong or feelings are good or bad – Do not lecture on the value of life
• Get involved – Be available – Show interest and support
• Do not leave the person alone
• Do not agree to secrecy
• Do not dare the person to do it
• Offer hope that alternatives are available
• Take action – Remove firearms or stockpiled pills
• Get professional help, even if the person resists
• Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 18002738255
• Call 911 or take the person to local emergency room or UNI
Suicide is not just a threat, but a reality. A single act of love and kindness might not only help someone in need, but at this point, it might also save their lives.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Based on Most Recent 2014 Data from CDC
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 1999-2014 data [cited 2016 July].