Choosing Life: Emotional Wellness and Suicide Prevention

Sometimes we face terrible trials in life.  For some, troubles can push them to the point of despair.  Here is vital information to help you recognize if you or someone you love needs help, and how to connect before tragedy occurs.  

Preventable and tragic

According to some studies, suicide takes the lives of 122 Americans every day.  The effects are far-reaching, causing immense pain and suffering to communities, families and individuals.  However suicide is preventable, so it’s vital to know the signs someone is considering suicide and how you should respond.

Beware of warnings

These are indicators someone is considering suicide and time is of the essence.  If you see these warning signs of suicide, seek assistance immediately with a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255):

  • Threats to hurt or kill oneself
  • Talking about wanting to kill oneself or self-harm
  • Seeking the means to kill oneself via firearms, pills, rope, or the like
  • Writing or talking about dying, death or suicide when that isn’t part of the person’s usual behavior

The following signs indicate someone is at an increased risk for suicide and watchful concern is warranted.  Be alert to these issues:

  • Saying there is no reason for living
  • Lack of purpose in life
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Talk of feeling trapped, unable to see a way out of a situation or conditions
  • Despair, hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from society, family and friends
  • Uncontrolled anger or rage
  • Engaging in reckless activities without proper concern, such as driving hazardously
  • Desire for revenge
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Giving away of possessions that were once prized
  • Saying goodbyes or other preparations for death

The connection with substances

Sometimes people have what is termed “dual-diagnosis.”  This means there are two or more co-occurring emotional challenges, such as depression and substance dependency.  When someone with a psychological complication also struggles with substance abuse, one challenge may amplify the other  Because of this cycle, both the emotional issues as well as the addiction must be addressed.

When an addict also suffers from a mental health concern, it is critical that they carefully manage both issues to ensure that a relapse from one to the other does not occur.  If both conditions are allowed to become fully active, the person’s condition can turn life-threatening.

What to do for someone else

If someone you love is considering suicide, it’s vital to reach out.  The Mayo Clinic recommends opening lines of communication with someone you believe is thinking about suicide.  Ask your loved one gently and openly about what he or she is feeling, and if suicide is being considered.  Talking about suicide doesn’t push people towards it, and in fact the opportunity to address those thoughts and feelings can help mitigate the desire to do self-harm.

What to do for yourself

What is your status of emotional wellness?  Your feelings affect how you manage daily life, your activities, your relationships and mental health.  The way you respond to feelings and circumstances can vary, and your emotional wellness is your ability to navigate stresses and adjust to struggles and changes.  Aspects of your life that influence your emotional wellness are elements such as getting sufficient sleep, lowering stress levels, maintaining a positive outlook on life, being mindful, coping appropriately with loss and maintaining healthy social connections.  To help gauge your status and look for ways to improve your quality of life, the National Institutes of Health offers an emotional wellness toolkit.

Prevent tragedy

Anyone can become a victim of suicide.  Know the warning signs someone is suicidal.  Tend to your emotional wellness and reach out if a loved one is suffering.  Take steps to get help before it’s too late.