Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness. But mental illness is only one of the risk factors associated with suicide. There are a number of other things, all important to recognize, that may put a person at risk of suicide.
The following list is not comprehensive, meaning it is not necessarily a list of “all” possible risk factors. Nor is it a list of necessary conditions. A person may have just one or two of the following risk factors, or none, and still be at risk. But based on what is known, the following list does include some of the things that may put a person at risk:
- A family history of suicide.
- Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
- Access to firearms.
- A serious or chronic medical illness.
- Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse.
- Prolonged stress.
- Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
- A recent tragedy or loss.
- Agitation and sleep deprivation.
Get more information at the NAMI National Web Site.
Any person exhibiting these behaviors should get care immediately:
- Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Mood shifts from despair to calm
- Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to commit suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess risk.
See more at the NAMI National Site.
A New Suicide Prevention Campaign for Faith Communities
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) recently launched the “Your Life Matters!” campaign. During the campaign, the Action Alliance encourages every faith tradition to dedicate one day of worship each year to celebrate life, hope, and reasons to live. Faith traditions can consider observing this celebration near September 10, which is World Suicide Prevention Day. However, the message that each congregant’s life matters could be promoted anytime during the year, whenever it fits the needs of the local faith community.
Faith communities are in a unique position to reach a large portion of the millions of Americans who struggle with serious thoughts of suicide each year. Many people feel hopeless or trapped, or are in such emotional pain or despair that they struggle to face another day.
“Research shows that many people in these kinds of crises will accept help and support from faith leaders and faith community members, before they will seek care from mental health professionals,” according to Dr. Anne Mathews-Younes, Co-Lead of the Faith Communities Task Force and Division Director at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services at HHS. Dr. Mathews-Younes suggests that “Faith communities can help their members by supporting those who face mental health challenges and/or problems with misuse of alcohol and other drugs, as they seek effective treatment.”
Learn More at Your Life Matters!
It can be scary when a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide. Let us help. If someone you know has any warning signs we encourage you to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area code. The local crisis center may have resources such as counseling or in-patient treatment centers for your friend or family member. Most importantly, please encourage them to call the Lifeline.
How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
- Be Aware of Feelings
Many people at some time in their lives think about suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On the other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and thoughts they experience:
Can’t stop the pain
Can’t think clearly
Can’t make decisions
Can’t see any way out
Can’t sleep, eat or work
Can’t get out of depression
Can’t make the sadness go away
Can’t see a future without pain
Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
Can’t get someone’s attention
Can’t seem to get control
If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
This content was developed by the American Association of Suicidology.
Last Year’s Ceremony
The Directing Change Student Video program is a statewide competition where high school and UC students take action against suicide and end the stigma of mental illness by creating 60-second public service announcements. Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. The submission deadline for the 2014-2015 school year is February 1st, 2015. Visit www.directingchange.org for more details.
A total of 432 films, representing 996 students from 112 high schools and 9 University of California campus locations and 31 counties, were received during the 2013-2014 school year. DVDs of the 2013-2014 finalists are available upon request while supplies last. For more details, contact Lauren Hee at Lauren@namica.org or 916-567-0163. All PSAs are also available for download at www.directingchange.org.
Please watch for all NAMI California education programs trainings for fiscal year 2014-2015 to be posted soon in this Weekly News Report
See also Family Programs blog for updates, news etc.http://namifamily.blogspot.com
Send inquiries to:
NAMI California Office: 916-567-0163
From U.S. Department of Justice, November 14, 2013: The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has released nine suicide prevention publications to support the work of juvenile justice professionals. These online publications address critical program areas and promote life-saving practices, including effective screening, risk assessment, and the drafting of model policies in collaboration with other child-serving agencies, particularly those addressing mental health issues.
The resources were developed by the Alliance’s Suicide Prevention for Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force, co-led by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. In the upcoming months, OJJDP and theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will host several Webinars on the contributions of these resources.
Access these publications.
FROM NAMI California: Students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second videos in two categories: “Suicide Prevention” and “Ending the Silence about Mental Illness”. The winning teams and their associated schools will win cash prizes, qualify to win mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, and will be recognized at an award ceremony at the end of the 2013-14 school year.
Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information: www.directingchange.org.
Submission Deadline: February 1, 2014
Please help spread the word: Print and post this flier.