“Anyone who willingly enters into the pain of a stranger is truly a remarkable person.” By – Henri J.M. Nouwen
Some may not see themselves as “remarkable” who enter into the pain of others, but rather a person showing compassion for another and seeing that someone is in pain. This person could be you or a loved one…how amazing it would be for you to be SEEN by someone, rather than stay in that dark place with little to no hope. This simple action from a remarkable person saying “are you ok? I see you. What can I do for you?” could be a matter of life or death and will be your first step into recovery.
According to a Prevent Suicide WI report, from 2013-2017, Wisconsin’s suicide rate was the 2nd highest state, at approximately 14.4% (Indiana ranked the highest-14.9%), among the midwestern states. The number of suicide deaths in WI have increased from 588 in 2000 to 918 in 2017. These statistics are staggering!
You now might be feeling overwhelmed, sad, and/or lost on how to support those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or those who have survived a suicidal attempt. The feelings you may be experiencing are quite normal, yet quite scary. With that being said, you can educate yourself and understand the warning signs associated with suicide to help in saving the life of others.
Warning Signs of Suicide:
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of the above steps, please seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911. If you are unsure how to proceed, a licensed mental health professional can help assess the situation. Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Most Common Myths and Facts about Suicide:
Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact: Many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Myth: Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.
Fact: Active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation-specific. Studies have shown that approximately 54% of individuals who have died by suicide did not have a diagnosable mental health disorder. And for those with mental illness, the proper treatment can help to reduce symptoms.
The act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing. Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life.
Myth: Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.
Fact: Warning signs—verbally or behaviorally—precede most suicides. Therefore, it’s important to learn and understand the warnings signs associated with suicide. Many individuals who are suicidal may only show warning signs to those closest to them. These loved ones may not recognize what’s going on, which is how it may seem like the suicide was sudden or without warning.
Myth: People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
Fact: Typically, people do not die by suicide because they do not want to live—people die by suicide because they want to end their suffering. These individuals are suffering so deeply that they feel helpless and hopeless. Individuals who experience suicidal ideations do not do so by choice. They are not simply, “thinking of themselves,” but rather they are going through a very serious mental health symptom due to either mental illness or a difficult life situation.
Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: There is a widespread stigma associated with suicide and as a result, many people are afraid to speak about it. Talking about suicide not only reduces the stigma, but also allows individuals to seek help, rethink their opinions and share their story with others. We all need to talk more about suicide.