Many focus on preventing suicide, but what happens to those left behind? It can be traumatic for those finding their lived one. It can be isolating. Some feel shame or fear negative attention, criticism, and scrutiny. There are also issues related to closure if the deceased hide their distress until the final irrevocable act. Not only are the loved ones saddled with grief, but also the burden of explaining to others while they try to make sense of it. Grief is a difficult journey but suicide complicates it further.
The American Psychological Association APA Suicide Prevention gives tips for dealing with suicide as seen below. If you know someone contemplating suicide,r offer them hope and help. Go with them to therapy or to their psychiatrist if there are medication issues. Help them problem solve a better solution to a moment of crisis.
The need is real and growing. Some 45,000 Americans ages 10 or older died by suicide in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the rate continues to increase. APA advocates a multifaceted public health approach to the problem, beginning with active prevention. Public policies that can help with prevention include increased access to care and mental health screenings, funding for evidence-based treatment, support for further suicide research and the continued availability of early intervention resources.
APA’s prevention activities extend to other related areas, especially gun violence prevention. Firearms accounted for 51 percent of all suicides in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. APA advocates for a public health approach to gun violence prevention, supporting evidence-based programs and policies that can reduce the occurrence and impact of firearm-related violence.
How you can help
It is difficult to predict which people displaying risk factors ultimately will commit suicide. However, it is important to be aware of possible warning signs and to talk to kids or adults when they need help. As a friend or parent, you can help by opening up and reaching out. It is a myth that if you mention suicide, you might plant the idea. By honestly and openly expressing your concerns, you can send an important message that you care and understand.
How psychologists can help
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can find help through seeing a psychologist. Millions of Americans have found relief from depression and other emotional difficulties through therapy. There is convincing evidence that most people who have at least a few sessions of therapy are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties. Psychologists can also work on demystifying the treatment process, which can help fight the perceived stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.
Psychologists are exploring more ways to help with prevention, such as developing evidence-based treatments for people with suicidal ideation and developing evidence-based treatments for youths and for adults, as well as for individuals from different ethnic and racial groups or those in isolated communities. Rural suicide is an increasing area of research and treatment for psychologists, as literature shows that suicide rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
Coping with loss
Death by suicide can trigger a host of complicated and confusing emotions. Whether you are coping with the loss of a loved one or are helping a child or adult navigate such a loss, APA has resources and tips available to help you navigate through a difficult time. We’ll highlight those resources throughout the month on our homepage, and provide new information throughout the year.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or text “TALK” to 741741.