September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness and discuss this highly stigmatized topic. The goal of this month is to ensure that individuals, families, and friends have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help.
Know the Warning Signs
Research suggests that 90% of people who die by suicide may have experienced mental illness symptoms. Distinguishing “normal” behaviors from possible signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy. However, there are several common signs that families and friends can keep an eye out for in their loved ones:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively said or low
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)
- Overuse of alcohol or drugs
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- Thinking about suicide
In children, these warning signs can look different, being largely behavioral. Symptoms in children may include changes in school performance, excessive fear or worry, frequent nightmares, hyperactive behavior, and frequent disobedience or aggression.
Impact of Suicide
79% of all people who die by suicide are male. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of adolescents aged 15-24 in the US and the 12th leading cause of death overall. 13% of youth have had serious thoughts about suicide, compared to 4.8% of adults. The highest rates of suicide are among American Indian/Alaskan Natives and LGBTQ+ youth.
The community impact of suicide in the U.S. is sweeping and steadily growing, but yet suicide ideation is still highly stigmatized. Many people who desperately need help treating their mental illnesses do not seek it because of this stigma.
How We Can Help
- Check in on friends and family, especially those who are isolated or live alone. Let them know that you are a source of encouragement and help.
- If you or someone that you know is in crisis, call or text 988 or chat online at 988Lifeline.org immediately.
- Explore how your community can #ReimagineCrisis. Find helpful information and timely resources to use in your advocacy efforts to build a better crisis response system.
- Help spread the word about 988 and available support.
The NAMI NC Helpline is NOT a crisis line. However, the Helpline is available for a compassionate ear and access to resources to help you or a loved one avoid the need for crisis intervention. Contact the Helpline at 800-451-9682, by text at 919-999-6527, or by emailing email@example.com.