Where to Turn if You're at Risk for Suicide and How to Prevent Future Suicidal Thoughts

Written by: Jennifer Scott, SpiritFinder
Note: Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.

hoto Credit: BrookLorin, Pixabay

When you’re suffering from suicidal thoughts, you don’t need to keep them to yourself. Help is available through emergency resources, which can provide immediate help. You can also turn to friends, parents, coaches, teachers, and counselors. Working on long-term prevention strategies can help lessen or eliminate future suicidal thoughts.

Emergency Resources

If you’re in immediate danger, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room. You can also visit a local Safe Place® site, use TXT 4 HELP by texting “Safe” to 4HELP (44357), or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). They’re available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. The call is free and confidential, and the staff consists of specially trained counselors who “listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share any resources that may be helpful.” They also have a chat option.

​Call your mental health professional if you’re having suicidal thoughts. A therapist or counselor is specially trained to handle these situations, and he or she is likely to have a strong relationship with you. The therapist will assess your present state of mind. If you’re not in immediate danger, you may be asked to come in for an emergency appointment, or the therapist may spend some time speaking with you over the phone. If it’s determined that you’re in immediate danger, you’ll be asked to go to the closest emergency room, where he or she will likely meet you.

Fact and Statistics

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States with more than 44,000 people dying by suicide each year. This equates to about 121 deaths by suicide every day. For each death by suicide, there are 25 suicide attempts as well. Men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. Research has found that 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide suffered from a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia.

Although teens and young adults are typically associated with being at high risk for suicide, they actually represent the group with the lowest suicide rate. The highest suicide rate is among adults between 45 and 64 years of age, and the second highest occurs in people age 85 or older.

The races/ethnicities with the highest suicide rates are American Indians and Alaska Natives with 20 percent of all suicides. Whites have the second highest rate at 17 percent. From there the percentages are around six percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and blacks.

 Long-Term Prevention Strategies

Immediate assistance is important, but you should also work on long-term prevention strategies to avoid future suicidal situations. Get support from a mental health professional if you don’t already have one. Ask your family physician for a referral or search online for well-reviewed professionals near you. You should also have a support group of family of friends who you can reach out to when you’re feeling down or just need someone to talk to.

Work on identifying high-risk triggers or situations. Are there situations, people, or factors that increase your negative feelings? If so, avoid those circumstances. If you take prescription medications for mental health issues, take them as prescribed. Report side effects to your doctor if they’re interrupting your daily life, especially if you’re feeling worse. Some side effects are expected in the beginning, such as lower energy, but tend to taper off. An improvement in mood isn’t felt immediately on medications.

Having a routine provides structure and can help you feel more in control of your feelings and life. Try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends. Plan activities for the day, such as going to the gym or watching a movie. Avoid missing school or work. Make time for things you enjoy, especially when you’re feeling low. Set goals, even if they’re small. For example, you can read a book, learn a new hobby, volunteer, or travel.

Even if your situation feels hopeless, there are ways to sort through your feelings and issues to get to a point where you feel better. In the worst times, know that you can reach out to emergency resources, and each day, you can utilize long-term prevention strategies to work toward feeling happier and healthier.


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