At Medical Solutions, we continue to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month. While National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is recognized separately in September, we believe it’s important to note that suicide prevention is a crucial component of mental health awareness. In that spirit, please read on for some suicide prevention facts and resources.
Facts About Suicide
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition — yet 90% of those who died by suicide had experienced symptoms of a mental health condition. This disparity definitely highlights the need for mental health services, so folks can get the help they need before they reach the point of experiencing suicidal ideation and/or dying by suicide.
A 2018 CDC report showed that suicide was the tenth leading overall cause of death in the United States and claimed more than 48,000 lives that year. In 2018, there were more than double the rate of suicides (48,344) versus homicides (18,830) in the U.S.
While suicide is often more common among men, veterans, and LGBTQ youth, it does not discriminate, and anyone can be at risk. Risk factors for suicide include (but are not limited to): a prior suicide attempt, depression and other mental health conditions, substance abuse disorder, family history of suicide or mental health disorders, physical or sexual abuse, having firearms in the home, medical illness, being between the ages of 15-24 or over age 60, and being in prison or jail.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), warning signs of suicide can include:
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
- Talking about great guilt or shame
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Feeling unbearable pain, both physical and emotional
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
- Talking or thinking about death often
- Extreme mood swings
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order/making a will
Crisis Resources for Suicide Prevention
If you, a friend, family member, colleague, or acquaintance is in an emergency and facing impending suicide risk, please call 911 immediately and be clear that your emergency involves a mental health emergency specifically. In many communities, the police department can dispatch a special unit with support from mental health professionals if they know that’s a part of the emergency.
Additionally, you can call always the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) to speak with one of their counselors. NSPL also offers a 24/7 chat option with counselors available on the other end to help. If you’re deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss, you can use the chat function or TTY users can use their preferred relay system or dial 711 then 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Veterans and service members can also text a Veterans Crisis Line responder at 838255.
Free Employee Assistance Program for Medical Solutions
If you’re a current traveler with Medical Solutions (or our sister company, Aureus Medical), remember that all our current travelers have access to our free employee assistance program (EAP) through Cigna. The free EAP benefit offers our travelers up to eight in-person or remote counseling sessions, in addition to a strong variety of other resources and consult offerings to support them.
Additional Resources for Suicide Prevention
- Visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org for more information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its national network of local crisis providers.
- Call the NAMI Helpline at 1.800.950.NAMI or text “NAMI” to 741741.
- The Emotional PPE Project offers a directory to connect volunteer mental health practitioners with healthcare workers whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The National Academy of Medicine has an interesting discussion paper, Nurse Suicide: Breaking the Silence, that aims to break the culture of silence surrounding suicide among nurses.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers a help center with sections for people having suicidal thoughts, people who’ve lost someone to suicide, people worried about someone’s suicide risk, and survivors of suicide attempts.
- To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit dedicated to “presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide” that all started with one young woman’s poignant story and a group of friends who wanted to help.
- NIMH offers a shareable resources section for suicide prevention.
- Zero Suicide aims to improve suicide care and prevent suicide within health and behavioral systems.
Whether you need personal support related to suicide prevention or you’d like to help support someone else, please remember that you are not alone and there is always hope! All stats and data aside, suicide prevention is a very human issue at its core with real people being affected and real lives hanging in the balance — but please never forget that there are so many people who care and can help. With proper education, support, resources, and mental health care, suicide can often be preventable. Lean on the resources we’ve shared — and be sure to comment below with any additional resources you think could help others.