Together, We Can Save Lives
We’re currently in the middle of National Suicide Prevention Week, which began on September 8th and runs until the 14th. As you all know, Ocean Recovery specializes in treating substance abuse and eating disorders. What you may not know is that suicide is that tenth leading cause of death in the United States. And the folks who suffer from eating or substance abuse disorders are at particularly high risk. According to the CDC, 22 percent of suicide involve alcohol intoxication and 20 percent involve opiates. Furthermore, a 2014 study found that 12% of eating disorder patients have a history of attempted suicide while 43% reported lifetime suicidal ideation. With these facts in mind, I would like to go over some warning signs that a person might need help.
Warning Signs for Suicide
Suicide is never the result of one cause. Below are behaviors and other factors that may indicate a higher risk of suicide:
- Marked Sadness or Moodiness – Both of these are symptoms of serious depression, a major risk factor in suicide.
- Isolation and Withdrawal – Avoiding family and friends is another possible sign of depression, as is the loss of interest in hobbies and other pleasurable activities.
- Change in Sleeping Habits – This includes sleeping too much or too little.
- Changes in Appearance or Personality – A sudden lack of interest in daily hygiene or a sudden calmness after a period can indicate that a person has decided to take their own life.
- Making Preparations – This can include a suicide note, making unexpected gifts of prized possessions, drafting a will, or saying goodbye to friends and family.
- Stressful Life Events – Suicides often occur after a divorce or difficult breakup, the loss of a job or other financial hardships, or the death of a loved one, particularly a death via suicide.
- Self-Harmful Behavior – This could be cutting or self-mutilation, but also includes increased use of drugs or alcohol, unsafe sex, or reckless driving.
- Historical Elements – A family history of suicide or mental illness, previous suicide attempts, and a history of abuse or trauma are all serious warning signs.
- Health Factors – Mental health issues such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, or severe anxiety; the diagnosis of a life-threatening, terminal, or painful chronic illness; and brain injury are all major risk factors of suicide.
- Threatening Suicide – Whether or not you believe the person will go through with it, this must be taken seriously.
How to Help
It is a common misconception that talking to an at-risk person about suicide will plant an idea in their head or push them toward it. In fact, it is the opposite that’s true. Talking honestly about your concerns is a cornerstone of suicide prevention. However, this isn’t time to lecture, argue, or attempt to fix someone’s problem. Let the person know that their life is important to you and let them vent their despair. Encourage them to see a mental health professional and follow up on their treatment. If the person tells you that they’re thinking about suicide, assess the risk by determining the plan, means, time, and intention of the threat. If there’s any kind of a plan, call 911 or get the person to an emergency room to be evaluated. Remember that you’re dealing with someone’s life and it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Ocean Recovery has been treating substance abuse and eating disorders since 2002. If you or someone you love is suffering, please don’t hesitate to call today. Our admissions specialists are standing by to help you begin building your foundation for hope.