Whether your interest in learning about suicide is the result of celebrity deaths by suicide or you want to learn more to help yourself or someone you know, the following resources have been curated to help you.
What to Do If You're Concerned Someone is Considering Suicide
- First and foremost, don’t assume that suicide can’t happen. People who kill themselves often do their best to “keep up appearances” and “not trouble anyone.”
- Recognize warning signs. These include social withdrawal, increased drug and alcohol use, insomnia, risk-taking, preoccupation with death and other uncharacteristic behaviors.
- Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you ok?” The more concerned you are, the more you need to ask directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?” Don’t worry, you won’t put thoughts there that aren’t already present.
- Don’t use “reverse psychology.” Confrontations like, “Go ahead, see if I care” are risky and likely only to drive your loved one further away.
- Do what you can to make the environment safe. At the top of list are firearms, which rarely allow second chances.
- Remember that alcohol and drugs significantly increase suicide risk. Encourage sobriety, while seeking other ways of feeling better.
- Involve caring others, if possible. Keeping secrets is dangerous and places too much responsibility on your shoulders.
- Stay connected with them. Research shows that social supports enhance health and life and that feeling a sense of connection (or care and concern) from only one other individual can make suicide less imaginable and even irrelevant.
- Encourage the use of crisis lines, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.
- Recognize when the situation has become an emergency and call 911. If your loved one is out of control, threatening suicide, intoxicated, refusing efforts to help and/or has access to lethal means, urgent professional intervention is needed.
When to Get Help and Call a Mental Health Professional or the Suicide Crisis Hotline 800-273-8255
- Someone is threatening to hurt or kill himself/herself, or talking about wanting to take this action
- Someone looking for ways to harm himself/herself by seeking pills, firearms or other means of death or harm
- Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
Ways to Be Helpful to Someone Who is Suicidal
- Be aware; learn the warning signs.
- Get involved. Show interest and support.
- Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow for expressing of feelings; accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Offer empathy.
- Don’t ask “why.”
- Don’t act shocked. This creates distance.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available and offer to assist in seeking the help.
- 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness in a given year (SAMHSA)
- 1 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women in this country will suffer depression at some time in their life (NIMH)
- 3.5 times as many men die by suicide compared to women
- 3 times as many women attempt suicide
- Deaths by suicide are more than double the deaths by homicide in the U.S. (American Association of Suicidality)
- Suicide has increased 24% during the past 15 years, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (NIMH
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in teenagers in the U.S.(CDC)
- 9 of 10 people who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness
- Treatment works, but only 50% of children and 40% of adults get the mental health services they need. (SAMHSA)
Recent Media Coverage
Jonathan Stevens, MD, MPH, chief of Outpatient Services and chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, has given interviews on KHOU Channel 11 about suicide, suicide prevention and depression. See what Dr. Stevens has to say about these critical topics:
- Depression can be genetic, biochemical, environmental or psychological
- Symptoms of major depression include: depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure in activities, weight loss or gain, insomnia, motor agitation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished ability to think, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
- These symptoms must be associated with impaired functioning for clinical diagnosis
- Psychotherapy, medication and brain stimulation are effective treatment options for depression
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
- The majority of people who are depressed do not kill themselves. Only about 4-5% of people who are depressed die by suicide.
- Many mental health professionals are trying to change the language from “committed suicide” to “died by suicide” to reinforce that suicidality is an illness and not a crime.
- What leads to suicide? Mental illnesses (i.e. depression and substance abuse), social forces (unemployment and gun availability), neurobiological factors (serotonin) and sleep deprivation
- Mental health clinicians, in some instances, don’t even presume to understand why a patient followed through with suicide.
- I know someone who died by suicide or tried to, how do I grieve?
- It’s normal for survivors of suicide to think that a person who died by suicide did a selfish thing, but try to understand the anguish and cognitive impairment that the loved one was going through at the time
- Empathy. Know that there was likely a multitude of emotions and vulnerabilities that the person was going through at the time.
- It’s extremely difficult for many people to admit that they’ve attempted suicide
- Support groups (for the individual as well as loved ones) are typically very effective to help people acknowledge that they attempted suicide. Suffering in silence is not productive when recovering from an attempted suicide.
- The recovery process for partners and families who have had a loved one attempt suicide often necessitates working through the feelings evoked by the attempt, including anxieties about another attempt.
Hope and Treatment
There have been remarkable advancements in the treatment of suicidality, but it’s important for people to know that help is available, treatment is effective and that there’s no shame in seeking treatment
- More than half the people who die by suicide did not seek the help they need.
Heightened Risk Factors for Suicide
- Any real or anticipated event that causes shame, guilt, humiliation or unacceptable loss of face or status
- Legal problems
- Financial problems
- Feelings of rejection or abandonment in a key relationship
- Recent suicide of a friend or perceived connection with a celebrity through the media