MAYVILLE, N.Y.: – Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers, and communities. Uncovering the reasons for an individual suicide death is complex and challenging. Suicide deaths are usually not precipitated by one cause only.
If you suspect someone may be at risk for suicide, take it seriously. Fifty to seventy-five percent of people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention in some way; sometimes it can be obvious but other times we might need to be aware of more subtle signs. Ask the person questions. Begin by telling the person that you feel is at risk that you are concerned about them. Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide. Don't be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it. Do not be afraid to use the word suicide; asking directly about suicide is important in prevention. Many times a person who is thinking of suicide wants someone to listen to the pain that they are experiencing.
Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know you care, they are not alone and they can get help. Avoid pleading and preaching to them with statements such as, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.” And finally, actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately. People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a medical professional in their community and schedule an appointment. If you are concerned that the person is in immediate danger, call 911 or the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-0461.
Social media also offers resources to help. For example, when someone is talking or posting about suicide on Facebook, please report the post by selecting the option, ‘I think it shouldn't be on Facebook,’ then select, ‘It's threatening, violent or suicidal,’ and then the option, ‘Self-injury or suicide.’ You will then be able to select an option including support to your friend, reach out to a friend you trust, receive tips from suicide prevention experts on how to help, or you can select to have Facebook review the post.
“We want to stress that there is a lot of help and supports in our community,” said Victoria Patti, Coordinator of the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention. “It is better to report the concern to a medical professional or call 911, than to do nothing at all or think someone else will do it. Community members need to understand and know the warning signs of suicide and be brave enough to ask the question, ‘Are you thinking of suicide?’ Those that are thinking of suicide may just want to be heard and their pain to be understood. Taking the time to ask more questions and being open to hearing a person’s story can be what someone needs to take that step to receive help or other supports. Take all warning signs seriously and please reach out hand; you may save a life.”
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services Patricia Brinkman also want to stress that suicide prevention and awareness is an important topic for community conversations and that there is help in the community.
“It is so important that we talk about these concerns and don’t brush them aside and hope they go away” said Brinkman. “We need to create a community culture in which we feel comfortable in talking about mental health openly and honestly in order to receive the support and resources necessary to work towards wellness. There is still stigma surrounding the topic of mental health, and we hope to break this stigma by continuing out awareness and prevention efforts.”
“We all must recognize the many life struggles individuals may face, and it is important that everyone in our communities is aware of the warning signs of suicide and the resources available,” said Borrello. “By lending a hand or a listening ear, reminding someone they are not alone, providing information about available support services, and reaching out with kindness to someone who you believe is at risk of suicide are ways we can help these individuals receive the assistance they need to find a better, healthier solution to the personal issues that may be troubling them.”
Knowing the warning signs of suicide could be potentially lifesaving for an individual in crisis. They are as follows:
Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Talking about being a burden to others
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
Sleeping too little or too much
Withdrawing or feeling isolated
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
Displaying extreme mood swings
These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has recently increased in frequency or intensity, and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If someone you know is experiencing any of these warning signs, seek help. Resources are available. However, if in a serious emergency, dial 911 immediately.
“There are also supports in the community for those who have experienced personal loss due to suicide,” said Annie Rosenthal, PR Coordinator at Chautauqua Tapestry. “The Survivors of Suicide Loss Bereavement Support Group offers community members a safe space to share with others their experiences and who are feeling similar emotions of loss.”
The Survivors of Suicide Loss Bereavement Support Group resumes on October 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care in Lakewood. The group is facilitated by Carri Raynor, who is a suicide loss survivor and has been trained by The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Bereavement Group Facilitation. This support group is collaboration among Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, and The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention. For more information about the group, email Carri Raynor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Community Mental Health Resources:
Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline: 1-800-724-0461, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. Mobile Crisis Team, 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and 24 hours on weekends and holidays, accessed through the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline
Chautauqua County Mental Health Clinics, Jamestown: (716) 661-8330, Dunkirk: (716) 363-3550
UPMC Chautauqua Outpatient Mental Health Program, Dunkirk: (716) 664-8641
The Resource Center Mental Health, Jamestown: (716) 661-1590, Dunkirk: (716) 366-7660
Hospice Chautauqua County Bereavement Services (all ring into the administrative offices), Jamestown/Lakewood: (716) 338-0033, Dunkirk/Fredonia: (716) 672-6944, Mayville: (716) 753-5383
Mental Health Association Support and Linkages: (716) 661-9044
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.