Sadly, media coverage of suicide may weaken suicide prevention efforts. Recently, it seems that we are losing an increasing number of key public figures and celebrities to suicide. According to the CDC, suicide rates are on the rise, possibly due to the internet and social media. Each year, we lose 45,000 individuals to death by suicide. Presently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America, confirming that suicide is a serious public health problem.
It is important to carefully consider our own mental state. Individuals who have a personal history of depression or other mood disorders may find suicide news triggering. Thankfully, there are many resources for support if you or someone you love is feeling overwhelmed or feeling triggered by news of suicides.
Suicide Prevention Resources
One reliable support is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained professionals are available to answer your call, at any hour, providing confidential support. Additionally, they have a useful list of does and don’ts for helping someone else who is contemplating suicide. Lastly, if someone you know is posting about suicidal thoughts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has social media safety teams who will reach out to the individual directly.
The National Association of Mental Health (NAMI) also offers resources for suicide prevention. Including these useful 5 steps for helping someone in emotional pain:
1) Ask directly whether or not they are thinking about killing themselves and get specifics on whether or not they have a plan.
2) Keep them safe by monitoring them and removing access from any lethal means.
3) Be there to listen. Talking about suicide actually lessens, rather than increases suicide risk.
4) Help them connect to support whether or not it is giving them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, taking them to speak with a mental health professional, or calling 911 for more serious cases.
5) Stay connected. Follow-up with them and check-in after they have received support.
Lastly, if you are concerned about a child or adolescent, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers useful guidelines for preventing youth suicide. Also, the Child Mind Institue has a good article that discusses what parents can do if they are worried about suicide.