Do you know someone thinking of suicide? Here's how to help.


During Suicide Prevention Month, mental health officials ask that you increase awareness

After declining briefly, suicide deaths in the U.S. began to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were 48,183 suicide deaths in 2021, rising to an estimated 49,449 deaths in 2022, an increase of approximately 2.6%.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with public health organizations working to raise awareness of the signs that someone may be thinking about ending their life.

#BeThe1To is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope.

“The troubling increase in suicides requires immediate action across our society to address the staggering loss of life from tragedies that are preventable,” said CDC’s chief medical officer Dr. Debra Houry. “Everyone can play a role in efforts to save lives and reverse the rise in suicide deaths.”

An overlooked reason

There can be many reasons someone considers taking their life. Often depression is a major contributor, caused by a traumatic life change.

A report this month from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) points to another overlooked reason. The report found that identity theft victims are more likely than others to consider suicide.

A survey of victims found 8% considered it in 2020, with the percentage doubling to 16% in 2022. The survey seeks to measure the emotional toll that identity theft takes on its victims.

“This year’s report reflects the responses of 144 victims who contacted the ITRC between January 1-December 31, 2022,” the group said in a statement. “The ITRC also asked 1,048 consumers in an online survey if they had been the victim of an identity crime and, if so, how it impacted them. Responses from this broader set of self-identified victims using similar questions asked of victims who contacted the ITRC show both significant differences and common experiences.”

What you can do

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline suggest five steps to help safeguard people from the risk of suicide and support them when in crisis:

  1. Ask: Asking and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

  2. Help keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to lethal means is an important part of suicide prevention.

  3. Be there: Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation has shown to be a protective factor against suicide.

  4. Help them connect: Individuals that called the 988 Lifeline were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by the end of calls.

  5. Follow up: After you’ve connected a person experiencing thoughts of suicide with the immediate support systems that they need, following up with them to see how they’re doing can help increase their feelings of connectedness and support. There’s evidence that even a simple form of reaching out can potentially reduce that person’s risk for suicide.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM), warning signs include withdrawing from friends and family, extreme changes in sleep patterns, displaying extreme mood swings and expressing a feeling of being a burden to others.

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