September is Suicide Prevention Month, and this article will elaborate on how to seek help if you need it, or how to help prevent the suicide of someone you know.
We all go through dark periods in our lives, and while some struggle more than others, there is always help at hand if you know how to reach out.
Preventing suicide can be done by as little as asking ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘Do you need help?’ This September, #BeThe1To reach out to someone in need. Feel free to share these posters and help spread the idea.
Suicide Prevention Posters
This article lists help hotlines for different places around the globe. If your country isn’t listed, you can find your local hotlines here.
As well as listing helpful hotlines, we also look at statistics from around the world (and specifically, suicide stats from the US) and look at what warning signs a person might display if they’re feeling suicidal.
The article also highlights research into suicide prevention through pet therapy and provides helpful links for further reading.
All over the world, people commit suicide every day. The World Health Organisation released a list in 2016 that ranked countries by how many suicides they had each year per 100,000 people.
Overall, ranked from most to least, the six regions are listed as follows: Europe, Southeast Asia, Western Pacific, Americas, Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean. In all areas, there were significantly more male suicides than female suicides.
Here is a list of the top ten countries which have the most suicides per 100,000 people:
Suicide facts and statistics vary by country, and also change over the years. Here are some recent facts relating to the US. Many of these facts about suicide in the US were sourced from the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.
Suicide Facts for the US
The following infographic shows ten facts about suicide in the US. Also, the highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Suicide Facts for Australia
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age.
- Young Australians are more likely to take their own life than die in motor vehicle accidents.
- In 2017, the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was approximately twice that of non-Indigenous Australians.
Causes of Suicide
People struggle with different things, and what might be a cause for despair to one person might be manageable for another. It’s widely accepted that suffering any form of mental illness can lead to suicide, as having a mental illness can make other difficulties harder to deal with.
Illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia all need to be treated seriously to prevent a downward spiral of emotions that could lead to a suicide attempt.
Mental Daily Health lists the following possible causes for suicide, aside from most significant cause, which is suffering from poor mental health:
A Traumatic Experience
Abuse, be it physical, mental, sexual or otherwise, could cause someone such great depression that they want to commit suicide.
You don’t need to have a history of mental illness to go through a traumatic experience, and while having a history of good mental health might make you better able to cope well in traumatic situations, it’s no guarantee of how you’ll handle it.
Another traumatic experience you might cope badly with would be if war breaks out in the place where you live, and you find the situation hard to live through or to cope with afterwards. This is why many veterans struggle with poor mental health.
Abuse of any type of substance can lead to poor mental, emotional and physical health, and can lead to suicide. Many drug users choose to take drugs to escape the reality of their life, in which they might be experiencing regular bouts of depression.
But substance abuse can’t fix these problems, and will only numb them temporarily, meaning that when the addict is sober, they might experience suicidal feelings.
Not just limited to the playground, bullying is now widely accepted as a problem for adults as much as it is a problem for children.
Whether it’s a family member, colleague or friend who is bullying the individual, it can wear down the victim over time and make them contemplate how to escape the unkindness of the bully.
Losing your job, especially if it happens suddenly, can be a terrible knock to a person’s confidence.
You might find that your finances quickly get out of control, and without an income, those who are unemployed are at risk of losing their property and assets.
If you have a family to support, this can be even more stressful.
Whether you’ve experienced a bad break-up, are with an abusive partner or find yourself experiencing loneliness, relationships can be a major cause of depression and contributing factor to suicidal thoughts.
What Can We Do to Help?
If you know someone who you believe is having suicidal thoughts, whether they’re a family member, friend, colleague, neighbour or student, there are signs to look out for and things you can do to help.
While suicide is never 100% preventable, because a person’s own actions are the responsibility of themselves alone, if you feel like you can reach out to a person in need, you could help to prevent them taking drastic action.
About 70 percent of people who die by suicide give some sort of clue to someone about their intention to end their life, which means that, if picked up on, help can be sought. Here are some warning signs you can look out for that might indicate that a person’s suicidal behaviour is getting worse.
- When they’re distant and don’t want to spend time with other people
- When they spend long periods of time in seclusion
- When they stop doing things that they used to enjoy
- When they’re reluctant to make plans for the future
- When they stop responding to messages or appearing online
- When they are abusing alcohol or drugs
- When they’ve had a significant event or traumatic experience in their life
- When they’ve suffered a loss such as bereavement or a break-up
- When they inexplicably get their affairs in order by changing their will or repaying debts
- When they easily give things away such as expensive, personal and meaningful possessions
- When they browse or buy implements that they could use to harm themselves, such as knives, guns or drugs
- When they speak or move with unusual slowness
- When there is a change in their sleeping patterns
- When they noticeably gain or lose weight
- When they make a drastic change to their appearance, such as cutting their hair very short
Of course, this list is just a guideline. Many people suffer in silence without making it known to other people that they’re feeling very depressed. Often, even those who are very close to a suicidal person will have no idea about how low they’re feeling until it’s too late.
If you want more information, start by watching the ‘Five Steps to Help a Mate’ video and see what other resources they have online. Many hotlines will be happy to help those who are worried about someone as well as speaking directly to the suicidal person. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for further links.
Animal lovers will tell you that their pets are their lives. If you follow PostSecret, you’ll no doubt have seen postcards from time to time where someone confesses that the only thing stopping them from ending their life is the love and companionship of their pet.
Suicidal thoughts are often common in people who are isolated from others. So it begs the question; could keeping a pet be a way to prevent suicide?
Keeping a dog is known to reduce anxiety and battle loneliness. Owning a dog is also good for depression because walking the dog forces the owner to get exercise every day – something that’s vital for those who are prone to feeling blue.
Fresh air and a rush of endorphins sound like a simple fix, but life is made up of the little things, so why shouldn’t something as simple as keeping a pet make a difference to your mental health?
Dogs can’t read your mind any more than a human can. However, dogs have immense capabilities for compassion.
While a suicidal person could easily fake a big smile and say ‘I’m fine, thanks!’ to those who ask, dogs are actually capable of reading human body language and expressions, so it’s not so easy to lie to them, even though they don’t understand you. A dog will know when you’re in pain and try to comfort you.
If you know someone who might be having suicidal thoughts, do you think they’d benefit from spending time with an animal? Even if they can’t have a pet in their own home, there are ways that they can positively benefit from spending time with a dog or cat.
Pet adoption centres are often looking for volunteers to help out. This would be a benefit both to the centre and to the person doing the volunteering. You can also look into pet therapy sessions or set up meetings with someone who has a friendly pet. In the UK, Borrow My Doggy enables users to meet those who have a dog that needs extra attention.
National emergency number: 911
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is live 24-hours a day. It’s a toll-free and confidential suicide prevention hotline which also provides Spanish-speaking counselors, as well as having options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a 24-hour, toll-free hotline. Aside from support over the phone, there are also webchat and text options available to military veterans and their families. It also provides options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. The Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.
The Crisis Text Line is the only 24/7, nationwide crisis-intervention text-message hotline. The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741-741.
Samaritans USA is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in the United States. The Samaritans is a global charity and there are numerous branches around the US. Branch hotlines can be found here.
The Trevor Project provides a 24-hour phone hotline for (LGBTQ) young people aged under 25: Call 1-866-488-7386.
TrevorChat online is available 7 days a week from 3PM to 10PM ET.
The Trans Lifeline is a non-profit organization for the transgender community, providing crisis intervention hotlines. It’s staffed by transgender individuals, available in the United States and Canada. The Trans Lifeline can be reached at 1-877-565-8860.
National emergency numbers: 999 and 112
Childline: 0800 1111
111, Option 2, is the National Health Services’ First Response Service for mental health crises and support. This is not available in all areas of the country yet.
Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in the United Kingdom. They provide a 24/7, toll-free crisis line, as well as many local branches. Samaritans Helpline can be reached at 116 123.
Campaign Against Living Miserably is a registered charity in England. It was launched in March 2006 as a campaign, aiming at bringing the suicide rate down, particularly among men aged 15–35. It has a limited-hour phone and webchat options. CALM (Nationwide) can be reached at 0800 58 58 58 (available every day from 5PM to midnight).
CALM (London) can be reached at 0808 802 58 58 (available every day from 5PM to midnight).
Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go for those struggling to cope and in need of immediate help. Get Help by texting Shout to 85258
National emergency number: 911
Kids Help Phone is a nationwide 24-hour, toll-free, confidential crisis line and counseling service available to Canadians under the age of twenty, in English and French. Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Crisis Services Canada nationwide suicide prevention and support network: 1-833-456-4566
The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting CONNECT (English) or PARLER (French) to 686-868.
National emergency number: 000
Lifeline is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services. Call: 13 11 14. They also offer an online chat service.
Kids Helpline is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides the same services as Lifeline, but specifically for Australians aged 5–25. It can be reached at 1800 55 1800. In addition, the Kids Helpline does also provide online chat services.
Beyond Blue provides nationwide information and support regarding anxiety, depression, and suicide: Call 22 4636. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the organisation also provides online chat from 15:00-24:00.
Suicide Prevention Australia: Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
National emergency number: 112
Samaritans Mumbai: Providing emotional support for those who are stressed, distressed, depressed, or suicidal to people across India. Email support at [email protected] Call for help 3 pm to 9 pm, daily. Helpline +91 84-2298-4528, +91 84-2298-4529, +91 84-2298-4530
AASRA: +91 22-2754-6669 is a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week nationwide voluntary, professional and confidential services.
Sneha India is available 24/7, in Tamil or English, on the phone by calling +91 44-2464-0050.
Other Helpful Resources
AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves.
MAlive is the world’s first virtual crisis center. It is the world’s first crisis center where 100% of the volunteers are trained in crisis intervention. In the first year since the launch IMAlive has helped thousands of people in crisis.
Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid.
Samaritans USA is a member of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and works internationally with Befrienders Worldwide and other bodies, including the World Health Organization.
Text from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. They provide free, 24/7, confidential support to people in crisis.
Call, text or chat online for help. Find support on the website and join TrevorSpace, a social networking site for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) youth under 25 and their friends and allies.
Kids in Canada can get help in English or French either by phone, text or online. Seek help or find information online, along with informative articles. The adult version is Crisis Text Line.
The service is available across Canada via toll-free phone, chat or text in English and French. This means anyone in Canada that is thinking about, is or has been affected by suicide, can reach out across a variety of media, and feel supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every six seconds, the Samaritans respond to a call for help. No judgement. No pressure. We’re here for anyone who needs someone.
CALM runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.
Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.
The Samaritans website for branches in India.
Providing voluntary, professional and essentially confidential care and support to the depressed & the suicidal around Mumbai and India.
Sneha is a suicide prevention organization in Chennai, India. The offer unconditional emotional support in Tamil or English to anyone who could be feeling distressed, depressed or suicidal.