By Denise Sanfilippo, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lead Therapist
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the nation, resulting in nearly 50,000 American deaths in 2020, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The topic of suicide often feels taboo and one that can be difficult to understand and talk about. Yet, it is preventable when we take steps to normalize the conversation.
We all can play an active role in helping watch, respond and care for children, families and friends who might be having suicidal thoughts.
Know the warning signs
Suicide can impact people of any age, gender or demographic, including children, and can be further triggered by challenging life events.
A person contemplating suicide often doesn’t tell anyone, and the warning signs aren’t always obvious. However, several actions can raise a red flag for concern, such as increased alcohol and drug use, mood changes, the desire to give away important belongings and feelings of hopelessness that lead to an increase in risky activities. Isolation is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide that has grown exponentially since the pandemic. Feeling disconnected from other people and having little social interaction takes a toll on well-being.
It only takes one person to notice and make a difference. Learning these indications and connecting with a medical professional when a loved one is demonstrating concerning symptoms is critical.
What to do if someone you love needs help
Suicidal ideation is more common than one might think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide in 2020. Out of this group, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt and 1.2 million attempted suicide. Whether it’s a passing thought or actively planning to commit suicide, these dangerous thought patterns can lead to dire consequences when left unaddressed.
If a loved one is struggling, take it seriously and seek help. Speaking to a professional can help ensure they are in a safe state of mind while outlining healthy coping mechanisms and treatment options to reduce suicidal thoughts.
About the Author
Denise Sanfilippo is a licensed clinical social worker for Elite DNA Behavioral Health, a comprehensive behavioral and mental health service provider with more than 25 locations across Florida. For more information, visit EliteDNA.com.
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If you or your loved one are having suicidal ideations and are in danger, please call the emergency hotline, 988, on your phone or mobile device.