For those of you who don’t know, today is Suicide Awareness Day. It is also National Suicide Prevention Week.
Depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and feelings of hopelessness are more common than you may realize. Growing up and living life is no easy task, and some handle it better than others. Some of us really struggle with the day-to-day feelings, thoughts, and pressure, and a lot of people never receive the help they need.
Here are some quick facts courtesy of To Write Love On Her Arms:
- 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (World Health Organization)
- 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
- Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General’s Survey, 1999)
- Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30% of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)
- 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
- Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)
There are several foundations and communities that aim to support people who are feeling alone and need help. Two of the most popular ones are To Write Love On Her Arms and Love Is Louder. These organizations focus on educating the public and spreading the word about the effects of depression, anxiety, and the pressures of life, as well as providing resources for people to learn how to handle these feelings or how to help a friend or family member who may be going through a rough time.
Here are some tips from the Love Is Louder website:
Love is Louder is a movement to provide support and resources to anyone feeling mistreated, alone or hopeless. Sometimes people struggling with depression or other issues get so down and hopeless that they feel like there’s no way out. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and an opportunity for all of us to take action to help ourselves or others who may be feeling hopeless or alone. Here’s how you can help:
- Encourage your friends and family to visit this page and learn more. Here’s a sample tweet or post: Today’s World Suicide Prevention Day. #loveislouder when we take action to help ourselves or others. Found out how – http://www.loveislouder.com/wspd
- Learn the warning signs of suicide below. If you notice these signs in yourself or a friend, speak up and let someone know.
- If you are worried about a friend, reach out and help them. Here are some tips for helping a friend who is having a hard time.
- Make a donation to Love is Louder and The Jed Foundation, a leading nonprofit focused on suicide prevention among teenagers and college students. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
Warning Signs of Suicide:
Seek help by talking to a counselor or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for support if you see or hear anyone with these warning signs:
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
Call 9-1-1 or seek immediate help from a mental health provider when you hear, or see any of these behaviors:
- Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
- Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
- Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
I’ve been there. I’ve had low points in my life that I never thought I’d survive. I’ve had suicidal thoughts and at 16 I finally asked for help. Telling my parents that I needed to see a therapist was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m so glad I did it. I’m constantly fighting anxiety and depression, but I’m able to cope now because I gave myself the chance to learn tools and techniques that make handling these feelings much more manageable. Not everyone speaks up though, and sometimes even if they do, we don’t hear them or realize what they’re really trying to say. So take action, support these organizations and their causes. Educate yourself, your family, and your friends. Make a donation. Talk with your loved ones. Spread the word. You could save a life.