September is national suicide prevention month, which calls for the conversation we must remind ourselves to have. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between ages 10-24. The youth struggles with mental health more than we commonly acknowledge, which is why it’s important to speak out, especially during this time of year. The stigma around mental health can sometimes cause young girls and boys to struggle with expressing their emotions. With every conversation, society can work towards breaking down this stigma.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help, society relies on humans working together, not against each other. It’s important to seek help if you are struggling yourself, or recommend help if a friend or loved one is struggling. There are so many stories of people finding hope and that light at the end of the tunnel, it’s inspirational and can motivate others to share their stories as well. It can be very hard to voice the struggle while going through something as deeply emotional and intense.
Experiencing trauma at a young age can be confusing and hurtful to anyone that experiences it, especially youth between the ages of 10-24. Some people might not even fully understand the feelings or emotions they’re having in result to an event. However, it’s not just trauma that can trigger a suicidal response. It can come purely from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and a lack of serotonin. This is okay! Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health related issues that coincide with suicide. Dealing with a chemical imbalance doesn’t mean that person is any less capable of accomplishing and living a healthy happy life. What is important, is to watch for warning signs of risk in oneself or in friends and family, and seek help when needed.
What to Look For
If you become worried for yourself or someone you love, there are significant signs to be aware of. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) tells readers to be aware of changes in talk, behavior, and mood.
Pay attention to the language used. Is there about feeling like a burden to themselves or those around them? Talk of feeling hopeless? Or vocalizing unbearable pain? These are all warning signs the AFSP points out to be alerted by.
Behavior changes when someone experiences the feelings of suicide. Maybe they will stop engaging in activities that once brought them joy, or any type of isolation is also a red flag. Social and academic withdrawal are to be noted as well. If the person becomes angry and aggressive frequently, or starts engaging in substance abuse behavior (drugs, alcohol, etc), these are all signs to check up on yourself or the person you notice experiencing them. Additionally, sleeping too much or too little, as well as giving away meaningful possessions.
The mood of those experiencing suicidal thoughts will come across as typically negative. However, that doesn’t mean it will be obvious. Increased depression, anxiety, lack of interest, humiliation, shame, and irritability can all be warning signs that something is wrong as well.
What to do When Warning Signs are Present
Suicide can feel very lonely. It’s a dark feeling that heightens isolation, and at times can be very scary. The most important thing to know, and to tell others is that you are never alone in the fight. Each life is precious and important to contribute to the human race. If you experience warning signs in yourself or others, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24 hour serivce waiting to help. They employ trained professionals that work with certified suicide prevention specialists highly skilled in suicide intervention. For more information about how you can help yourself or loved ones, visit www.afsp.org or call the 24/7 hotline at (1)800-273- 8225