Suicide is an important public health issue. It is something that affects most of us in some way. According to the World Health Organization, 1 million individuals worldwide end their own lives each year. Here in the U.S. suicide is the number two cause of death among young people ages 15-24, claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day and is responsible for more deaths among active duty military service men and women than combat.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to this most serious subject. While uninformed bystanders may view threats of suicide as a desperate attempt to gain attention, the reality is that, for most people, suicide is a frightening choice that is only made when they feel they are out of options. People who commit suicide lack hope that things will get better and feel that the pain they are experiencing has become intolerable.
1. Suicide Happens Only if You Are Mentally Ill
People who attempt suicide are not necessarily mentally ill. Grief, depression and extreme upset can lead a person to act in an extreme way.
2. A Person Determined to End their Life Can’t be Stopped
In fact, most people who contemplate suicide are deeply conflicted about doing so. If the warning signs are seen, suicide intervention can be successful.
3. Talking About Suicide Will Deepen Their Resolve
This is a dangerous misconception since it robs people of the help and intervention which could save them. Talking about suicide and the pain behind it can be helpful. Suicide attempt survivors say it is hugely helpful to have someone ask “what is wrong?” and “how can I help?”
Suicide can be prevented, but it requires intervention. You may need to step in and ask some pretty direct questions. Don’t judge or try to make them feel guilty, but do show genuine concern. Finding a door out of their present pain can make a huge difference. Family Guidance provides counseling for people looking for a reason to hope again and a crisis hotline for more immediate intervention. Lives depend on knowing where to go for help.