Dr. Marion Somers
September is Suicide Prevention Month.
One of the strongest protections one can foster for ourselves and others is to be aware of warning signs of anyone who might be entertaining the thought of suicide. The warning signs come in a variety of categories; much too long to list here. For example: history of suicide in the family, previous attempts at suicide, experienced trauma or abuse, chronic pain or illness, or losses in its myriad forms. A more comprehensive list of Suicide Risk Factors may be found at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
With Covid-19 many of our school age students have been separated from their peers and healthy social interaction. The demographics and statistics state that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for young people. This is causing a health problem of great magnitude. The belief is that suicide is preventable. When we are armed with knowledge, sensitivity, awareness, and a willingness to reach out when we see someone dealing with factors beyond their skill sets or personal or emotional strengthens, we can help by letting them know they are not alone and gently directing them to people or organizations that are expert and supportive to those who are entertaining potential suicide.
At the other end of the age spectrum, our seniors and their families have been separated from each other and other potential support systems. We are not out of the woods regarding social isolation for most. With the stress factor many have been dealing with, the need is for each of us to stay alert as to how we can maintain and deal with our personal stress factors. With our individual strengths and stability harnessed, we may be able to help others by giving them support, our love, care and concern. Just knowing we are remembered with a friendly voice and outreach may help an individual. We often do not know or understand what might trigger an individual’s deep pain or personal loss. But a kind word can help dispel loneliness. There are many avenues for assistance available such as: suicidepreventionlifeline.org, Veteran’s Administration Suicide Prevention, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), World Health Organization – Suicide Prevention.