Suicide is a very real public health problem that affects individuals from all walks of life. It is important to remember that your story is not over. There are more laughs to be had. More love to give and receive. More victories to celebrate. And more importantly, More Tomorrows. Many suicides can be prevented by people knowing the warning signs, and most importantly, knowing what to do if they recognize those signs in themselves or someone they care about. Join us in the More Tomorrows movement . . . take time to learn the warning signs, how to ask the question or have the conversation, and where to get help when needed . . . in doing so you can provide hope, help & healing to prevent suicide in our community!
Suicide is a very real public health problem that impacts individuals from a variety of backgrounds and of all ages. On average, in the United States, there are 132 suicides per day. Suicide is preventable and anyone can help by knowing the warning signs, and what to do if you or someone you love is in a crisis situation. Let’s build hope and bring More Tomorrows!
Sources: CDC.org, NAMI.org, womenshealth.gov
Suicide costs the US almost $70 billion each year in medical and work loss costs
While more women attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide
Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide
Without adequate support, LGBT youth are 5 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to contemplate suicide as their straight peers
40% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime
1 in 5 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year
Since 1999, suicide rates have increased 33%
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
Learning the warning signs of suicide could save someone’s life. While an individual may not be experiencing all of these warning signs, most will experience more than one and for an extended period of time. Some are obvious while some are more subtle, so it’s important to know what to look for and what to do next if you do notice these behaviors in someone you care about. With each of these warning signs, watch for a change from the individual’s typical behavior.
You may notice them being disengaged from previously enjoyed activities or friends.
They may begin sleeping too much or too little.
This could look like driving without a license, drug and alcohol use, shoplifting, driving at excessive speeds, etc., because they no longer care what happens to them.
Engaging in use of substances when they have never shown interest in it before.
This is one of the most commonly overlooked warning signs of depression and/or suicide – if they continue to experience unexplained aches and pains in their body.
People who are thinking about suicide may say goodbye to their friends and family.
Possessions the individual has previously shown great interest and adoration for oftentimes can be given away because they think they will no longer have a use for these.
People who do this are not simply “looking for attention” as we often hear people say. Take this very seriously! Whether it be in conversation with a friend, a writing or art assignment turned in at school, a journal entry, etc. – any expression of death should be taken extremely seriously.
This often sounds like, “It will never get better” & “I’m worthless” & “Nothing is going well” & “Everything is just too much”
Again, take this language very seriously.
The individual may be feeling like they are stuck in a situation or in so much pain and there is no way out. Again, feeling hopeless as if nothing can improve or there is no way out but death from their current situation.
These mood swings would be out of character for them and unexplainable.
They may be researching how to buy a gun or substances that may be lethal on the internet or asking people about methods.
This may sound like, “Everyone would be better off without me” & “Things will be easier without me here.”
If you notice someone acting overly anxious or agitated for no explainable reason.
Unexplainable anger and rage that would be out of character for the individual is one potential warning sign of suicide.
Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings. The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions.
Sources: Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Mayo Clinic & Suicide Is Preventable: Know the Signs
Before starting a conversation with someone you are concerned about, be sure to have suicide crisis resources on hand. For additional resources, check out Get Help Now.
Find a private place to talk where there won’t be any distractions and set aside plenty of time to have a conversation. If possible, try to find a comfortable place where you both can sit.
Let the person know why you asked to speak with them. For example, “I’ve noticed that you quit the baseball team and have no interest in participating in the things you once enjoyed. I’m concerned about you, what’s going on?”
Try to get as much information about the individual’s circumstances as possible by asking open ended questions, such as: “You seem down lately, how have things been going at ?” “Tell me more about how you are feeling.”
Listen to what they have to say and reassure them that you are listening by summarizing their response. “So it sounds like things at home have been really stressful and you are worried about your slipping grades.”
Validate their feelings, and provide them with support. “It sounds like things have been really tough for you lately, no wonder you have felt so stressed. Please know that I’m concerned for you and that there’s help to get you through this.” “Thank you so much for sharing with me. I can’t imagine how difficult has been. What can I do to help?”
Follow your gut. If you feel like they may be having thoughts of suicide, be direct and ask the question, “Have you ever felt so badly that you think about suicide?” or “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Asking these questions will not put the idea in their head or make it more likely that they will attempt.
If they say yes, stay with the person. Connect them either to an adult, a mental health professional, or if they are in immediate danger to themselves or others, call 911. If you are unsure how to locate a mental health professional, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988.
If they have not made a plan or thought about method, help them locate a mental health professional, and call to make an appointment as soon as possible. Consider offering to take them to their initial appointment. Follow up with them regularly and stay involved in their recovery process. Continue to be supportive, compassionate, and encouraging.
If they have made a plan and have access to means, help remove the means from the vicinity (means are any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as pills or a hand gun). You may need help with this from family or the law enforcement. Never put yourself in danger. If you are concerned about your own safety, call 911.
Create a plan to keep them safe until they are able to meet with a mental health professional. This may include means removal, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, creating a list of people they can call if they are having suicidal thoughts, connecting them with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and getting a verbal commitment that they will not act on their suicidal feelings.
Provide them with the resources you have prepared including the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988 or see other available resources at Get Help Now.
If you feel that they are in immediate risk, call 911 or take them to the Emergency Room. Don’t leave them alone.
“You aren’t thinking of killing yourself are you?” When you word the question in such a way, it sets them up to say no, even if they are having suicidal thoughts.
“How could you be so selfish?! Don’t you know how hurt your family would be if you killed yourself?” Making someone feel guilty will only add to their pain. Instead, instill hope and focus on assisting them find help.
If you are feeling suicidal or if you are concerned about an individual who is suicidal, there is immediate help available. A skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center is able to talk to you now and provide assistance.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988, press 1
Veteran Text Line 838255
Boys Town National Hotline (800) 448.3000
Crisis Text Line 741741
Nebraska Family Helpline (888) 866.8660
The Trevor Project (866) 488.7386
Safe Harbor Warm Line Number 402.715.4226