Take a Minute, Change a Life

World Suicide Prevention Day, observed annually on September 10th, aims to increase awareness of suicide and its causes and warning signs, as well as effective prevention strategies.

Suicide is a growing epidemic. According to the International Association For Suicide Prevention (IASP), it is currently claiming 800,000 lives every year.  Although there is no single cause for suicide, the risk does increase if there are undiagnosed and/or untreated mental or behavioral health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention also identifies any stressful life event as another significant risk factor. This includes, but is not limited to, death, divorce, unemployment, financial problems, bullying, harassment, and relationship problems.

The theme of 2017’s World Suicide Prevention Day is “Take a Minute, Change a Life.” It highlights our responsibility to look out for one another if we suspect someone is struggling. Checking in with someone, listening without judgment, and offering support can save their life. It isn’t always easy to identify those around us who may be struggling, but knowing the warning signs can help someone you know who may be in mental or emotional distress. These include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Rage
  • Loss of interest and/or withdrawal from activities
  • Isolating from loved ones
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Giving away belongings
  • Increased substance use
  • Expressing feelings of being trapped, being a burden to others, or having no reason to live
  • Talking of killing oneself

If you’re thinking about suicide or are worried about a friend or loved one, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255.

If you have lost someone to suicide, you may find that sharing your experience and grief with others may help you to heal. To find an in-person or online support group click here.