With some of the more celebrated holidays right around the corner, safety and suicide awareness become more prevalent in our everyday conversations. But did you know that studies show no increase in suicide rates during the holidays? According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Sciences, suicides rates are at the lowest in December (CDC info). Of course, there’s no denying that for those experiencing suicidal ideation, it is very real. So, what can we do if we catch ourselves feeling down and contemplating completing suicide? First and foremost, talk to someone about it. When we are having suicidal thoughts, our brains aren’t processing things normally. Our thoughts may be distorted or faulty, causing us to feel or behave in counterproductive ways. Whatever the case may be, oftentimes just talking about it helps. One place that you can call to talk to someone is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you don’t feel like talking over the phone, you can also chat online through their website.
It is important to know some of the things that might put a person at risk for suicide. This is a non-exhaustive list of risk factors and warning signs:
- Talking about killing themselves
- Giving away their belongings
- Talking about hopelessness or about not having the will or reason to live
- Previous attempts
- A history of mental health disorders and barriers to treatment
- History of alcohol and/or substance abuse
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies and/or mood swings
- Isolating or withdrawing
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Recent loss (i.e. death, divorce, separation, job)
- History of suicide in the family
- Health issues or disease
Again, this is not a complete list of risk factors or warning signs. At the very least, having someone that will listen and talk about it goes a long way. When in doubt, simply ask the question: Are you thinking about killing yourself? Let’s talk. First, it may give the person some relief to know that someone else noticed. Secondly, by asking the question in a non-judgmental and comfortable way, it helps normalize the thoughts the person is having. The person may realize through conversation that what they are feeling isn’t weird, abnormal, or strange. Thirdly, it provides the person some time to talk about it and a chance to get the help they need.
Although the idea of suicides occurring much more during the holidays has proven to be a myth, many people still find themselves feeling down this time of year. (Especially so for those struggling with addiction.) So, listen intently, because you may be the person who has a chance to make a difference.
Click on the links below for more information and resources related to suicide and suicide prevention: