September Is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Every year, thousands of individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide are left in the dark. Too often, feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. The MCPS Employee Assistance Program is here to help. You may either call or contact the employee assistance specialists directly by email: Jeffrey Becker, LCSW-C, CEAP, and Robyn Rosenbauer, LCSW-C, CEAP.
If you or someone you know is having an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 911 immediately. The Montgomery County Crisis Center is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 240-777-4000.
Below, the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) offers valuable information on recognizing warning signs, understanding risk factors and finding support.
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911:
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.
Research has found that 46 percent of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use. Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
- More than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death.
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss
Support In A Crisis
Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis such as suicide quickly and effectively. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t have instructions or resources on how to help or what to expect (like the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR). That’s why NAMI created Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency, so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it.
The Employee Assistance Program can refer you or a family member to mental health professionals who are trained to help people understand their feelings and improve mental wellness. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize ineffective patterns of thinking and behavior, validate their feelings and learn coping skills. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom, just like any other—they can be treated, and they can improve over time.
Suicide is not the answer. There is hope.