Suicide Awareness Week

Recently the Women’s Empowerment Group from Prairie Counseling Center participated in painting the word “LOVE” on their arms in support of the To Write Love on Her Arms movement. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an American non-profit organization founded in 1996 which aims to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery. The original story that inspired the movement and additional resources can be found at twloha.com
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September 5-9 is National Suicide Awareness Week and National Suicide Awareness Day is Saturday, September 10.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with over 42,773 Americans dying by suicide every year. That averages to about 117 deaths by suicide per day. What’s even more alarming is that for every completed suicide, an estimated 25 people attempt suicide.

In order to promote awareness about the problem of suicide, self-injury, and mental illness, Prairie Counseling Center’s Women’s Empowerment group has put up a display table in the lobby of the Bond County Health Department with informational handouts and resources for those suffering from suicidal thoughts or self-harm or for those who may have loved ones dealing with this issue. A few of the ladies from the group have also provided personal statements, which are displayed on the table, to help promote awareness about what it’s like to experience living with suicidal thoughts. The purpose of the project is to help reduce the stigma of suicide and help people understand how to assist someone who is suicidal. It is also to provide individuals who are suicidal or suffer from self-injury to have hope that they are not alone and that there is help available.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Lifeline (USA) at 1-800-273-8255 or text SIGNS to 741741for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling. You can also contact Prairie Counseling Center at 664-1455 for counseling services.

Suicide does not have one single cause. Certain factors like substance abuse and untreated depression can lead to higher risk of suicide just as having a robust social circle can help protect you from suicide. Read more below about the warning signs, risk factors and protective factors of suicide:

Warning Signs

Warning signs are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help:

Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;

Looking for a way to kill oneself;

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;

Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;

Talking about being a burden to others;

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;

Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;

Sleeping too little or too much;

Withdrawing or feeling isolated;

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and

Displaying extreme mood swings.

Risk Factors

Risk factors do not cause or predict a suicide, rather they are things that make it more likely an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide:

Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders

Alcohol and other substance use disorders

Hopelessness

Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

History of trauma or abuse

Major physical or chronic illnesses

Previous suicide attempt

Family history of suicide

Recent job or financial loss

Recent loss of relationship

Easy access to lethal means

Local clusters of suicide

Lack of social support and sense of isolation

Stigma associated with asking for help

Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Protective Factors

Protective factors are characteristics that make a person less likely to engage in suicidal behavior. Moreover, protective factors can promote resilience and ensure connectedness with others during difficult times, thereby making suicidal behaviors less likely:

Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders

Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions

Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide (guns, prescription drugs)

Strong connections to family and community support

Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way

Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation

SOURCEPhoto courtesy of the Bond County Health Department/Prairie Counseling Center
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