According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), there is an average of 130 suicide deaths per day and was an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts in 2020.
Each September, Trousdale Medical Center joins with others across the country to help bring awareness to suicide and encourage education in hopes of preventing suicide.
Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month is a chance to take time to stop and assess oneself and others to ensure those who need help have access to it.
What does one do if a loved one may be having thoughts of suicide? There are five evidence-supported action steps to take if someone is known to be in crisis.
Individuals can ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?” That communicates that one is open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in that direct, unbiased manner can open the door for effective dialogue about one’s emotional pain and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken.
Being there for someone could mean physically being present, talking on the phone, through video chat, or any other means of showing support. It is very important that one does not commit to things they are not willing or able to accomplish and ensure that the ways they indicate they will support will actually happen.
Keep them safe
If one has determined that a loved one is thinking about suicide, it is then important to establish immediate safety. That can be done by asking questions like “Have you tried to do anything to harm yourself,” or, “Do you have a specific, detailed plan? If so, what is the timing and their access to the method?” Knowing the answers to each of these questions can help one determine the level of danger that the person is in. For example, the more specific steps they have in place for their plan, the higher their severity of risk is.
Help them connect
Individuals can connect those in need with the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and the crisis text line’s number, 741741. Help them explore their options. If they have they seen a mental health professional in the past, they could they see them again. They can find out what mental health resources are available in their community and find out whether they have a safety plan in place.
After they have been connected to the immediate support they need, it’s important to follow up to see how they are doing. Following up allows them to ask for more help if needed and for others to have an opportunity to help.
By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, individuals can possibly prevent suicides and save lives.
If someone is in an emergency, individuals should call 911 immediately. For individuals in crisis or experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call or text the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.
Trousdale Medical Center’s senior life solutions program is a program designed to meet the unique needs of individuals typically 65 and older, experiencing depression or anxiety related to life changes often associated with aging.
For more information, education, or to discuss support, individuals can call 615-374-9991 or visit mytrousdalemedical.com.