About every 40 seconds, a human being takes their own life. Let’s really think about this statement. Dentists recommend we brush our teeth for two minutes, twice a day. That means that just within the time you brushed your teeth yesterday, SIX people died as a result of suicide. These six people were someone’s child, sibling, spouse, parent, friend…
These new statistics were released in June 2018, shortly after the news broke that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both committed suicide. Suicide rates have increased rapidly with a ripple effect touching lives across demographics.
Why? Is it social media? Bullying? The glamorization of suicide? The increase of stress in Americans?
As a mental health professional, I see teenagers that are struggling with thoughts of suicide every moment of EVERY single day. I am not the only one that sees this. As parents, you might see it. As teachers, you might see it. As humans, we will all see it. So, the question becomes, how do we help?
-Pay attention: Is this person acting differently than usual? Many believe that if someone feels suicidal, then they must be crying all of the time or always seem sad. It’s important to note that everyone experiences depression differently.
-Talk about it: Talking about suicide appropriately does not encourage suicide attempts. In order to help, communication has to happen. When you see an indicator of suicide in someone you know, it is best to address it immediately and directly. For example, specifically saying “are you thinking of hurting yourself?”.
-Take it seriously: Every sign and threat of suicide should be taken seriously. Never dismiss it as fake in an attempt to gain attention, even if it is a repeated suicide threat. Anyone that is talking about suicide as an option is sending a clear message. Dismissing this also sends a message to the individual- “I’m not valued”. Showing support and taking action in the moment is the best line of defense.
To those that are fighting this battle: The pain and hopelessness that you are experiencing is real. But, how can you be sure that it will last forever? That things will never change, never get any better? Every year, about a quarter of a million people become suicide survivors. What would it be like if you could just stay… a little longer?