September is Suicide Prevention Month, and next week (Sept. 4-10) is Suicide Prevention Week. It’s important to use this time to start important conversations regarding mental health and suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is a major public health concern. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and it’s on the rise in certain populations. The CDC reports that suicide is the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S., claiming the lives of more than 45,900 people.
The government also tracks suicidal thoughts and behaviors among U.S. individuals. Consider that in 2020, 12.2 million adults thought about suicide, 3.2 million had plans to commit suicide and 1.2 million adults attempted suicide.
This is tough stuff to read. Knowing how prevalent suicide is in our society, we must address a very important question: Can we prevent suicide? The CDC says we can.
Which Suicide Prevention Strategies Work?
Suicide is a serious concern that can have long-lasting effects on individuals, families and communities. The good news is that suicide is preventable. However, to be effective, suicide prevention requires strategies at all levels of society. People must learn about the warning signs of suicide and how to access mental health therapy in New Jersey.
Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that have proven to be effective at preventing suicide:
Suicide crisis hotlines
988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is now active across the U.S. and remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help those going through a mental health crisis.
When people call, text or chat 988, they will get to speak to a trained mental health counselor who will listen, understand their problems and get them in touch with local resources. Numerous studies show that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed and less overwhelmed after speaking with a counselor.
Reduce access to means of suicide
Reducing access to lethal means of self-harm is another important piece to the puzzle. Firearms are the most lethal suicide method, as are medications in large doses. Because many suicides take place during a short-term crisis, it’s important to reduce access to lethal means during these times.
Here are some ways to protect a person who is suicidal:
- Store firearms in a locked safe. The key should be put in a safety deposit box or given to a friend or family member until the crisis passes.
- Keep firearms offsite. Contact the local police station or gun range to see if they can offer temporary storage. Or, ask a friend or family member to store firearms.
- Lock up medications. Store all medications in a locked medicine cabinet or lock box. Dispense them only as necessary.
- Safely dispose of medications. Locate a medicine take-back program in the community or follow the FDA guidelines for proper disposal.
- Be on alert. Other methods of suicide to be aware of are pesticides, cutting (self-injury) or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Standardize mental health care
Health care organizations have the unique opportunity to help prevent suicide. In one study, over 80 percent of people who died from suicide had been seen in a health care setting within the last year. What this means is that people who are suicidal are being seen by doctors and emergency room departments.
To ensure that these individuals do not ‘fall through the cracks,’ health care organizations should treat suicide prevention as they treat heart attack prevention. Some steps to take include:
- Recognize the signs of being suicidal
- Identify gaps in health care that contribute to suicide deaths
- Provide better resources for self-care
- Offer evidence-based approaches such as psychotherapy
- Promote suicide prevention as a core component of health care training
- Educate health care workers on how to provide suicide care
Suicide is Preventable. Seek Mental Health Therapy in New Jersey Today.
This September, find ways to be an advocate for suicide prevention. This is something that’s needed on all levels. CTRLCare Behavioral Health does our part by offering a wide range of mental health treatment services that are affordable, accessible and convenient. Contact us today to learn more about our adult and child mental health services in Princeton NJ.