What it means when we talk about Suicide Prevention
By Regan Cunningham, LSW
If you have a good memory for the early 2000s, you may remember the saying that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
You either used it or gawked at the phrase. Both reactions are fair.
The reason people commit suicide or begin to idealize it are due to various factors that may not be as simple as “temporary problems.”
The three main factors, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are health, environmental, and historical. This means individuals with prior mental health disorders are susceptible to committing suicide compared to others who may not have a history of mental health illness. However, add on more layers which can affect someone’s likelihood of suicide. This includes, but are not limited to
- a family history of a suicide attempt
- being a victim of a crime, or of bullying
- relationship problems
- employment problems
- stressful life events
- childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma
- physical ailments that include pain
These are not necessary what you might refer to as temporary problems in one’s own life. They are more so factors that are embedded in a person’s identity, environment, and whole being. So, this brings up the question: what does suicide prevention look like? It may not even be as easy a simple blog post can tell.
Perhaps it is normalizing the conversation of depression and feelings too strong for individuals to handle on their own. Even in today’s world, some people will argue that mental health is not as crucial as keeping the heart beating. Yet the reality is that stress, which effects mental health, is also linked to heart attacks. Therefore, a holistic approach to conversing about the preventative work is just as important as it is to making sure local hospitals are getting funded.
In July 2022, the 1-800 seven-digit number for the Suicide Hotline turned into the 988 number, which meant it was just as easy to get mental health help as it was to report a crime. This was a huge progressive step in the United States to address the mental health crisis in America. For free, you can talk to a crisis mental health counselor in an instant without having to schedule an appointment. This has come after the pandemic proved to be taxing on people’s mental well being in America. The constant isolation led to the sense of loneliness for some, while the waitlist for mental health counselors piled high.
When we talk about suicide prevention, mental health workers are asking for the Pandora’s Box of conversation to be opened and the accessibility of services for everyone. This means that individuals who are feeling depressed or suicidal can have a safe place to express themselves and be free from judgement or jeopardizing their reputation.
Even for people not feeling depressed or suicidal, it can be the simple act of normalizing feelings with people around them. Whether this look like talking about our own feelings. Going to therapy. Being open to what we are thinking, perhaps we can begin to help others feel brave to share their feelings that often have led others to go down the path of suicidal ideation.
If only we could fund mental health facilities as we do with Jeff Bezo’s pockets, maybe we could see a difference in generations to come that have often passed on the mental health issues that so crowd our world today.
Generations of families that have seen abuse and unhealthy habits could address the underlining issues so they could heal together. The individual who is going through a divorce or break up can feel normal for feeling crummy over the loss of a relationship. Perhaps it all starts with what we do with ourselves and our own problems by showing others how normal it is to have our struggles or bad days.
Maybe it is as simple as opening up the conversation that it is alright not to be okay.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself please reach out at 847-854-4333. Owens & Associates is here to help