September marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Throughout the month, people across the United States can share stories and resources associated with suicide in an effort to spread awareness for this often-taboo subject.

Raising awareness might help reduce suicide rates nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 45,000 Americans ages 10 or older ended their lives in 2016. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country.

The loss of life affects entire families. A loved one’s suicide can lead to psychological trauma, long-term mental health problems like depression, and relationship complications. In many cases, people seek counseling in response to a loved one’s suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month serves as an opportunity for people to reach out to those affected by suicide, reduce the stigma associated with suicide and help individuals experiencing negative emotions that could trigger suicide find mental health treatment.

During National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, you can spread awareness for suicide prevention by starting a dialogue about the dangers of mental illness with family and friends. You can also write a blog post about the realities of suicide, which could inspire others to share the piece.

Talking about suicide with others can help people better understand mental health disorders and how to assist someone with suicidal ideations. Individuals who struggle with suicidal thoughts may be inspired to seek psychological assistance.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

People who experience suicidal ideations often deal with significant psychological pain on a regular basis. However, these individuals may not always talk about their mental health problems, so their loved ones may be unaware of their distress.

It can be difficult to recognize signs that a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts. A telltale indicator that someone is considering suicide is if they express a desire to end their lives, but sometimes they do not explicitly talk about their thoughts of suicide.

Signs that someone is considering suicide might include conversations about:

  • Experiencing feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped or having no solutions to their problems

Sometimes, you may be able to recognize suicidal behaviors in a loved one’s actions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, actions that may suggest that someone is thinking about suicide may include:

  • Planning ways to end their lives, like stockpiling medications that could cause overdose
  • Visibly dealing with more rage
  • Exhibiting mood swings
  • Taking risks that could result in death, like drinking and driving

Individuals who deal with suicidal thoughts may also write a social media post about how they want to end their lives. Luckily, many social media sites offer ways to help friends in crisis. For example, Facebook provides its users with information and resources pertaining to suicide prevention through their help center. If you see messages or live streams about suicidal behavior, call 911 immediately.

If you encounter someone who is considering suicide, assess the risk of suicide or harm. If they want to talk about their thoughts and feelings, listen nonjudgmentally and give reassurance when appropriate. You should also encourage self-help services or professional assistance so they know that help is available to them.

Letters on a table spelling "suicide prevention"

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline

People dealing with suicidal ideations should consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline offers free support for people in distress, including those dealing with suicidal thoughts. The hotline also provides callers with resources and mental health professionals with advice for best practices.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline employs mental health counselors who are trained in talking to people about the risks of mental illness and ways to get help for psychological disorders. The call center is available 24/7. All calls are confidential.

Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s website offers additional information that can help people understand their mental distress that contributes to suicidal behaviors. The site provides resources for:

An effective way for you to manage a mental health disorder that could induce suicidal thoughts is to seek professional assistance. If you’re experiencing suicidal ideations, seek a mental health counselor who specializes in treating suicidal behaviors. A counselor can help you better understand the causes of your psychological problems and ways to better control symptoms of mental illness.

If you’re experiencing a mental health and substance use disorder, addiction treatment may be necessary. At rehab, individuals can receive evidence-based therapy that is catered to their specific needs. Addiction experts, like those found at The Recovery Village, can help you manage drug cravings and alter negative thoughts that you may harbor.

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