“It’s important to point out that mental health is more about wellness rather than sickness.”
– Matt Purcell
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Sept. 10 is a day specifically dedicated to the cause. Though recent years have seen the conversation regarding mental health growing increasingly more open, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to suicide. It makes sense: suicide is terrifying to even think about. However, it’s when we allow these issues to remain unspoken that recovery feels more and more elusive to those experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Further, damaging stigmas persist. There’s the belief that asking someone about suicide may plant the idea in their minds, which research has proved to be untrue. There’s the idea that suicidal people are fully intent on dying and there is no hope for recovery, which is also distinctly false. There’s even something as simple as the assumption that suicidal tendencies should be easy to spot. While there are warning signs we can watch out for, depression can manifest itself in strange ways, and the best option for truly checking in with our friends is by asking questions and encouraging honest conversation.
With that being said, there are a few behaviors that should be on your radar if you notice them, such as increased substance use, withdrawal from socialization, aggressive behavior or mood swings, and impulsive behavior. While some of these in isolation might have other explanations, it’s always best practice to talk to friends or family if anything causes you to worry. At the very least, you can remind the people in your life that you care about them and are there if they need you.
This month, focus on fostering change in the realm of mental health. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Aside from raising awareness, September is also an opportunity to spread vital information to those affected by suicide. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, don’t be afraid to speak up. There are plenty of resources out there to help you:
- If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, call or text the updated Suicide Lifeline number: 988 (24-hour, confidential support).
- Text HELLO to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line (free and confidential support throughout the US).
- If you are seeking therapy or other mental health support, consult search tools like Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist or Psych Central’s mental health resource to determine which type of care is best and find providers near you.
Remember that help and recovery are always options. Reach out if you are struggling and try to be a resource for those in your life who might need help. Most of all, be kind to others as well as yourself.
Source: “Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.” https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month, Accessed August 8, 2022.
“Risk of Suicide.” https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide, Accessed August 8, 2022.