Every September, mental health organizations across the country recognize Suicide Prevention Awareness Month as a time to increase awareness, share resources, and spread hope. Suicide affects everyone, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or gender identity. As a community mental health provider for people of all ages, Independence Health and Therapy urges everyone to read up on the warning signs and develop a mental health crisis plan for their loved ones.
Suicidal thoughts or ideations should be discussed with a mental health professional immediately. Often these thoughts are a result of an undiagnosed or unaddressed mental health condition. A mental health professional will work to identify and address these conditions before they develop into a crisis situation. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize ineffective patterns of thinking and behavior, validate their feelings and learn positive coping skills. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom, just like any other — they can be treated, and they can improve over time.
Know the risk factors: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), some of the risk factors for suicide include:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use: Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication: Analysis from the CDC indicates around 1 in 5 people who die by suicide had alcohol in their system at the time of death.
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Gender: Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are 4x more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss
NAMI also created a robust crisis guide titled “Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency” which can be downloaded in English or Spanish using the links below.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency