September is National Suicide Prevention month. Suicide is a national health problem that currently ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10 – 24. Suicide is also one of the leading causes of preventable death in our nation.
In the era of Covid-19, as we all try to protect our mental health and cope with uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we be there for each other and take steps to prevent suicide.
In addition, across the United States, many communities are experiencing unrest and distress related to the unjust treatment of individuals who are Black in this country. Some individuals may have firsthand experiences of community discord, discrimination or trauma, or may be grappling with a loss of their sense of safety. Feeling overwhelmed or isolated, having trouble sleeping or difficulty concentrating are all common reactions to witnessing and experiencing community violence. Incidents of community violence can also contribute to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, or lead to increased substance abuse.
Mental health is important to talk about all the time, but September is a month dedicated to conversations about suicide and mental illness. You don't need to be a mental health professional to make a difference. There are several things we can do to work to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope.
- ASK- Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation
- BE THERE- Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.
- KEEP THEM SAFE- A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.
- HELP THEM STAY CONNECTED- Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness.
- FOLLOW UP- Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after they have been discharged from hospitals or care services.
Suicide and mental health is an important topic that we all need to be aware of and keep in our conversations.
Last week, Matthew West released a live performance video for "Too Young Too Soon". "Many of my songs are inspired by true stories, and sometimes those stories hit close to home," West shared on social media. “'Too Young Too Soon' was inspired by one of my daughter’s classmates who took his own life. Sam was an amazing kid, always had a smile on his face. But he was fighting a hidden battle."
West added, "This month is Suicide Prevention Month and I thought it would be a fitting time to shine a light on this song in the hopes that it might encourage anyone out there dealing with depression or thoughts of suicide. You are not alone, you matter, God loves you and your life is worth living."