If a friend or loved one were contemplating suicide, would you know it? If you knew it, would you know what to do?
The great majority of people who die by suicide show warning signs. Knowing how to spot them and what you can do may help save a life.
On average, suicide claims the life of more than one San Diegan every day. Mental health experts believe that for every suicide, six other people who were close to the victim suffer lasting emotional trauma.
“Suicide can be prevented,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of Behavioral Health Services for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “Depression knows no race, ethnic background or socioeconomic status. It’s important to know the warning signs and how to assist a suicidal person in need of help.”
Warning signs of suicide may include:
- Talking of hurting or killing oneself
- Hopelessness or helplessness
- Divorce, separation, stress on family
- Loss of health (real or imaginary)
- Loss of job, home, personal security
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Isolation from family and friends
- Daring or risk-taking behavior
In addition to spreading the word about the warning signs of suicide, the County’s “It’s Up to Us” campaign is offering residents a course called Question, Persuade, and Refer.
The County also sponsors the Access and Crisis Line where trained counselors offer advice on how to handle a mental health crisis and can help callers with a specific issue. The number is (888) 724-7240.
So what should you do when a person comes to you for help? If the person is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
You should also:
- Take it seriously
- Listen; suicidal behavior is a call for help
- Ask: Are you having thoughts of suicide?
- Don’t leave person alone
- Urge professional help
- Get help right away
“When a friend or a loved one comes to you for help, take it seriously. Ask if he or she is having thoughts of suicide or ending it all,” Aguirre said. “That simple conversation can help save a life.”
For more information about suicide, risk factors, warning signs and how to get help, visit It’s Up to Us.
Yenni Palomino is the Program Director with Community Health Improvement Partners. They facilitate the San Diego County Prevention Council.
Listen to the interview below on suicide risk warning signs and how you can help.
Photo Credit: Sd County