It's Okay to Not be Okay

By Christy Lenahan - Macaroni Kid Content Contributor September 20, 2018

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Every day there are an

average of 123 Americans who die by suicide. This means every 12 minutes suicide

will take someone’s life. Annually, firearms account for 51% of all suicides. Suicide

rates are highest in middle aged white men.

It is important to know the risk factors which include: mental disorders,

alcohol and substance abuse, hopelessness, impulsiveness, history of trauma, major

physical illness, previous suicide attempts, loss of relationships, easy access to lethal

means, local clusters of suicide, and social isolation or lack of support. These risk

factors make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

You should also be aware of the warning signs that someone is at risk for

suicide. These include: talking about wanting to die; researching ways to kill

themselves; expressing feelings of hopelessness, being trapped, or being a burden;

increase in alcohol or drug abuse; acting anxious and/or reckless; sleeping too little

or too much; withdrawing; expressing feelings of rage or demonstrating extreme

mood swings. If these behaviors are noted, especially if they are new or increased

or are related to a recent, major life event encourage the individual to get help now.

If you are worried about someone close to you, let him or her know it’s okay

to not be okay – but they need to get help. There are 5 simple steps you can take to

make a difference in their lives. First ask if the person is thinking about killing him

or herself. Next keep them safe! Separate them from anything they might use to

hurt themselves: firearms, medications – including over the counter, sharp objects,

ropes, etc. Then take the time to listen and do not judge or dismiss their feelings.

Once you have taken these steps, reassure them and get them connected to a

support system. If you don’t know where to start try the National Suicide

Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Finally, make sure you are checking

in on a regular basis even after the crisis has resolved.

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