Social Media Manager
This week, September 10th to 16th, is National Suicide Prevention Week. Although for some this may be just another awareness week, it is particularly important to me.
Ten years ago, I lost my uncle to suicide. His name was Gary and he was truly the coolest uncle a niece could ask for. Along with an extreme love of Metallica, tattoos and coffee, my uncle loved his family deeply. To say that I was surprised by his passing would be an understatement and it is something that has influenced my outlook on mental health entirely. It allowed me to understand how profoundly important it is to know the warning signs and prevention resources of suicide and has since motivated me to involve myself in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or AFSP, is a voluntary health organization developed in 1987 that is “dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide” by funding research, educating the public, providing resources to those who struggle with mental illness and supporting those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Each September, the AFSP hosts community walks across the nation to spread awareness about the prevalence of suicide in our societies. According to the AFSP website and the Center for Disease Control, there were an estimated 1.7 million suicide attempts in the United States in 2021, with 69.68% of them being middle-aged white males. This September, the Northeastern Rhode Island walk will be taking place on September 23rd at Roger Williams Park in Providence.
Although not everyone has been directly impacted by the effects of suicide, I encourage everyone to educate themselves about the risk factors of suicide, such as mental health conditions and pain-causing physical health conditions, a family history of suicide or attempts, access to drugs or firearms, prolonged stress, or exposure to another person’s suicide. It is also important to understand some of the warning signs of suicide which include depressed mood, talking about being a burden or having no reason to live, withdrawal from activities, aggression, or even sudden relief or improvement. Finally, one of the most important parts of suicide prevention is learning what to do if you notice any of these warning signs in someone you know. If you are concerned for someone’s mental health, some prevention options include having an honest, non-judgmental conversation with them, helping them remove lethal means, or escorting them to a mental health facility or an emergency room.
Also, if a person ever says that they are considering committing suicide, take them seriously. Do not assume that they are ‘just looking for attention.’ In my personal experience, my uncle did tell someone that he was suicidal, but unfortunately, they did not believe him. If they had, he might still be here today.
If I could leave you with any one piece of advice to make a difference, it would be to simply show love. You will never know how great of a difference a small act of kindness can make.
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: call 988 Crisis Text Line: 741741
Full list of mental health disorder resources: https://afsp.org/suicide-prevention-resources/