Suicide is a problem that touches the lives of many Americans. Many of us may know someone, such as a friend, family member, or coworker who has attempted or died by suicide. Over the past two decades, suicide rates have steadily risen in the United States. Suicide is currently ranked 10th for cause of death among all ages.
It’s important for you to know that suicide is preventable. With commitment and engagement in our communities, workplaces, and homes, together we can help reduce the number of suicides.
What are the warning signs that someone is at risk for suicide?
- Feeling extreme depression, guilt, or shame.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Talking about, or preoccupation with, death or suicide.
- Preparing for death, such as updating/preparing a will, giving away possessions, or taking steps to access lethal means (buying a firearm, acquiring quantities of pills/medication, researching ways to die).
- Exhibiting a dramatic change in behavior, including withdrawal from friends or usual activities, increased alcohol/drug use, difficulties in sleeping or eating, decreased self-care.
What should I do if I suspect someone is experiencing a crisis or is hurting?
If you believe someone needs help, we encourage you to follow the ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) suicide prevention model, with these easy-to-remember steps:
Ask – Ask, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Although it may feel awkward, research shows that people having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks them in a caring way.
Care – Show you care. The context of caring makes it a lot easier to ask the hard questions about suicide. By actively listening and engaging, without judgment, you are showing that you care – this might just be enough to help the person feel relief and that they are not alone.
Escort – When someone acknowledges that they are feeling suicidal or hopeless, care enough to connect them to the nearest helping resource. Do not leave them alone! If possible, separate them from methods of harm.
What resources are available for someone who is suicidal or in need of help?
- Take the person to the nearest Emergency Room, where they will receive a full suicide assessment and receive needed care. If the person is hesitant to receive emergency healthcare, call 911.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and follow their guidance. You can also visit their website for further information.
- If the person you know has a mental health professional that they see, help them schedule an urgent appointment. If they do not have an existing connection with a mental health professional, help them make an urgent appointment with their family physician.
What other resources are there for employees who may not be in a suicidal crisis, but need support?
- The DHS Suicide Prevention page provides risk factors and other ways to assist anyone who may need help.
- Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers a variety of useful, free, confidential services for DHS employees and their families, including counseling, financial consultation, legal aid, and dependent care resources, and elder care support.
- The DHS Employee Resources website offers information and resources to help you support your family, work-life balance, health and wellness, and mental well-being.
For more information on suicide prevention, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.