Monday is World Suicide Prevention Day

CDC: suicide rates up 30% since 1999

Sloane Martin
September 10, 2018 - 5:43 am

Amid rising rates, advocates are using today's World Suicide Prevention Day to try and put a stop to the needless loss of life.

Being able to recognize behavior changes in loved ones and listening can help people identify someone in need of help.

National Alliance on Mental Illness - Minnesota executive director Sue Abderholden tells WCCO that having direct conversations is difficult, but necessary.

"People often think if they ask about suicide, they're planting the idea and they're not," she said. "You can actually ask, 'are you thinking of hurting yourself? Are you thinking about taking your life?' And then you know how to respond. Saying, 'you're going to leave people behind' -- at that point in time it's not really about other people, it's really about the pain that they're experiencing."

According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased 30 percent since 1999. Abderholden says the following are some warning signs:

-If someone becomes obsessed with a particular death or the concept altogether, this can be a warning sign something is not quite right.

-If an individual suddenly develops the desire to give away possessions or form a will, this can be another indication of planning a suicide attempt. The depressed individual may go as far as to say goodbye to specific people. 

-Constant rumination and discussion of feelings of hopelessness, no purpose, or no motivation are a substantial sign of declining mental health.

-A sufferer’s usual favorite things are no longer admired or desired and no longer produce feelings of pleasure. 

-Erratic moods and disrupted sleep schedules are also signs of depression declining.

-Extreme feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and weight changes. 

"Just taking a pill isn't going to fix it," she said. "You also need therapy. You need to pay attention to sleep -- that's really important -- along with nutrition and exercise, and connecting with others. That could include working or going to school or something like that so you have a reason to get up in the morning."

With growing awareness comes more resources and, hopefully, more ears willing to listen and help. Some local law enforcement agencies are stepping up their efforts to address mental health crises: the St. Paul Police Department is working with People Incorporated to embed a social worker in their mental health unit, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office has a suicide prevention awareness vehicle. Every county has a crisis line and places like NAMI and People Incorporated have frequent classes and sessions on working through suicidal thoughts for both the people who are depressed and their loved ones.

If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).