September is Suicide Prevention Month, Simple Tools Can Promote Survival

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Every September, mental health advocates come together to try to reduce the number of suicides across the country. It’s Suicide Prevention Month and the goal is to raise awareness of this issue across the country and around the world.

More than 48,000 Americans ended their lives in 2021, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control. More than 38,000 were men. It is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States

Although these are grim statistics, there is hope. Suicide Prevention Month aims to raise awareness of options to support those who attempt, educate individuals about prevention strategies, and promote connections among all.

According to CDC experts and researchers, a key factor is communication. Talking and listening – actively – to suicidal people can help people walk away from the edge. But how can a person recognize the signs and ask important questions without confrontation?

Survivors told ABC-7 that one of the best ways to help someone contemplating suicide is to be available. Offer to go on walks with them, be available to chat, offer them a chance to get out of the house and see the world around them.

The Centers for Disease Control suggests that people create a safe environment for suicidal people. This could include removing deadly items from the home, such as guns, knives, or pills. Organization can really help: organizing scheduled events, connecting a person to their community and structure can improve feelings of importance.

Suicide affects all groups, and more than 12 million people have thought about it. The CDC estimates that more than one million people have attempted suicide and millions more have hatched a plan. The highest suicide rate was among Native Americans, followed by non-Hispanic whites.

The American Psychological Association states that suicide often occurs following a major depressive episode, but it is not the only factor. Substance abuse, difficult or stressful situations, or other bodily disorders can increase the risk.

Identifying a suicidal person can be a key step in prevention, according to federal experts. Recognizing the warning signs of suicidal behavior — like isolation, lack of communication, and comments about leaving — could make a difference.

The APA says that trouble sleeping, preoccupation with death, suicide or dying, preparing wills, unnecessary risk – or sudden drug/alcohol use can be signs of suicide attempt alarm.

Seeing, understanding and treating these symptoms can be important factors in preventing or reducing the risk of suicide, according to APA documents.

It may also be helpful to create a support plan in the event of an attempt, the CDC says. This could include taking them somewhere safe and quiet, or limiting follow-up attempt options. And “postvention” can be a useful tool, allowing to check the mental state of a person following an attempt or the discovery of suicidal elements.

Suicides occur in all groups, but there are two categories in particular worth noting.

“The suicide rate for men in 2021 was about four times higher than for women,” the CDC states on its website. “Men represent 50% of the population but nearly 80% of suicides.”

People over the age of 85 accounted for the highest number of suicides in 2021, according to CDC figures. Experts tell ABC-7 that isolation, loneliness and self-separation can lead to increased risks of suicide.

Again, experts believe that listening to and addressing the concerns of suicidal people can make a huge difference for both of these groups. There are a number of assisted suicide systems, including:

  • NAMI-El Paso – As part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some options are listed on their website for support and connection. NAMI is focused on supporting anyone suffering from any type of mental illness.
  • 988: The national lifeline in times of suicide and crisis – Anyone can contact the crisis line by phone, text or message at any time, for any mental distress.
  • Line 988 has a Veterans Crisis Line
  • EHN Crisis Hotline: (915-779-1800) – Staffed locally and with a long-term resource in El Paso, the Emergence Health Network hotline has specialists ready to listen.
  • Emergency Health – EHN is able to offer many different forms of support for mental health and wellbeing. From pet therapy to addiction treatment.

It is important to note that these are tools only and that assisted suicide includes multiple forms of assistance. According to the APA, psychological support can be a very important factor in preventing future attempts.

Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a member of the Report for America body. RFA places talented and emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7 to report on under-reported issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of the GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.


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