Resources for Suicide Prevention

by JoAnne Miles-Holmes, Injury Prevention Program Manager, NH DHHS, Maternal and Child Health Section

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. After months of social distancing and isolation, people who may be a risk of suicide may feel more disconnected from their family and friends. Staying connected by social media, telephone, email, and video conferencing can help reduce feelings of isolation. Watch and listen for changes in your loved one’s mood, changes in frequency of contact, loss in interest in things they enjoy, and/or messaging about self-destructive feelings. These may be warning signs of suicidal behavior.

Know the Warning Signs

Prevention first involves being able to recognize the warning signs of suicide, which can include:

  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

Responding to a Crisis

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has developed a guide to help you be prepared for a mental health crisis.  If you have a sense that your loved one is struggling, talk openly and honestly.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “I noticed that you seem to be less interested in your favorite hobbies lately. Are you thinking about suicide?” Stay calm and listen to what they have to say.

If the answer is “Yes” or if you think they might be at risk of suicide, you need to seek help immediately.

✔ Call a therapist or psychiatrist/physician or other health care professional who has been working with the person.

✔ Remove potential means such as weapons and medications to reduce risk.

✔ Call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

Listen, express concern, reassure. Focus on being understanding, caring, and non-judgmental, saying something like:

✔ “You are not alone. I’m here for you”

✔ “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help”

✔ “I’m concerned about you and I want you to know there is help available to get you through this”

✔ “You are important to me; we will get through this together”

NAMI-New Hampshire offers some specialized crisis hotlines to support veterans, people identifying as LGBTQ, and people experiencing disaster distress. These hotline numbers can be found at: https://www.naminh.org/resources-2/crisis-lines/.

Sometimes there is only a matter of minutes between the thought of taking one's life by suicide and attempting suicide.  The time you take to talk with your loved one could save their life.

For more information about suicide prevention, go to the NAMI website, https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month.

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