Statistics reported at a suicide forum relate that 43,000-44,000 people die in the US by suicide each year. That is 117 people each day! More die from suicide than from car accidents. It is time to decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and learn what all of us can do to save lives and change these statistics. Each year, the month of September is designated to raise awareness and learn what we can do to prevent suicide.
The first step is to examine our own feelings about suicide. I have been told that if someone really wants to kill themselves, there is really nothing we can do. WRONG! We can educate ourselves on the warning signs that someone is going through a personal crisis that could lead to suicide. Stay with that struggling individual and really listen and refer them to help! Know the warning signs of suicide as listed by The Delaware County Crisis Team. If a person:
- Threatens to hurt or kill themselves.
- Appears to be looking for a way to kill themselves, like looking for firearms or asking about medications that could be lethal.
- Talks about, writes about or looks for movies that show suicide.
- Gives away prized possessions.
- Feels hopeless or worthless and tells you about it.
- Feels rage or uncontrolled anger.
- Shows decreased interest in school.
- Acts very recklessly or seeks risky activities.
- Expresses a loss of energy and disinterest in normal activities.
- Expresses feeling trapped, anxious or agitated.
- Increases use of alcohol or drugs.
- Withdraws from family or friends or seems unable to sleep or sleeps all the time.
- Has dramatic mood changes.
- Expresses that there is no real reason for living.
If you notice any of these signs in your friends or in yourself, call these help numbers. Don’t worry about offending people or mistakenly referring someone to help. Delaware County has a Crisis Helpline and a Crisis Team that can help free of charge at 1-855-889-7827. If you are in Chester County call 1-800-273-8255, or 1-800-SUICIDE. If you are a veteran call Vets4warriors at 1-885-838-8225.
Just reading this list will not give you all the tools to help someone contemplating suicide. We need to join others in learning more. A task force is forming in our church to help with this crisis. Call Deacon Beth Barkhau or me for more information. There are walks in Philadelphia to increase awareness soon – join people who are looking for answers to this crisis. For information on a walk you can join, see the information in the box below.
Pat Woerheide, RN
Out of the Darkness Philadelphia Walk sponsored by
Sunday, October 1, 8:30 to 11:00 am
Registration and Check-in begin at 6:30 am
at Philadelphia Art Museum
Contact Sarah Hart at Sarah.Hart@afsp.org or 215-907-0088. Online registration until Friday, 9/29, or before the walk after 6:30 am.
To raise awareness and funds that allow the AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.