September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. A time for everyone to raise awareness and learn how to help themselves or a friend in crisis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 and the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States.
Dr. Nithya Ramanathan, director of psychiatry at Boundless Health, said it’s important to know the warning signs and intervene before someone does hurt themself.
She recommends watching for warning signs that someone is slipping into a deeper depression. Warning signs of a deeper depression may include:
- A decline in everyday functioning
- Isolating themselves (Example: Not wanting to go to dinner with family when they usually do)
- Loss of interest in things they generally enjoy
- Sleeping more than usual (10-12 hours per day)
- Not taking care of hygiene (brushing teeth, showering)
- Lack of energy and motivation
- A previous history of a suicide attempt is a strong predictor of future attempts
Dr. Ramanathan said it’s very important for friends and family not to be afraid to ask hard questions. For example, “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?” With individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, a better question might be, “Do you feel sad, like you just don’t want to be around anymore?”
If you see any of these signs, please immediately share them with the person’s counselor, doctor, or caregiver. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273- (TALK) 8255.