This is a guest post from Melissa Howard from Stop Suicide 


Suicide can be devastating for friends, family, and loved ones left behind. They often blame themselves for missing the signs, feeling as if it’s their fault. They may feel anger, disappointment, or frustration.

In addition, their own risk for suicide increases. According to Edwin Shneidman, the American Association of Suicidology’s Founding President, a survivor of suicide can be subject to the “largest mental health casualties related to suicide.”

How can you help prevent this tragedy? First, you must know the common risk factors and warning signs.

Know The Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for those who are contemplating suicide. According to statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide, while women attempt suicide more often.

Other people at risk include:

  • Those who have attempted suicide before.
  • People with a family history of suicide.
  • Those with untreated clinical depression or other mental health problems.
  • People who are isolated, withdrawn, or suffer chronic loneliness. Read the problems that loneliness can cause at Psychology Today.
  • People who are bullied or cyberbullied, especially teens. In fact, suicide rates for teenagers have more than doubled since 2007, according to the CDC.
  • Military veterans have a suicide rate of 20 per day.
  • People who have suffered a life-changing loss, disability, or other such trauma.
  • People with substance abuse disorders. Mental Health America writes that people with these disorders are “six times more likely to complete suicide than those without.”

Look for Warning Signs

  • If someone you love is in a high-risk group, look out for these signs:
  • Talk of giving away prize possessions.
  • Talking about “not being a burden” anymore.
  • Increased interest and discussion about death and dying.
  • Obtaining a firearm, drugs, or other means to commit suicide.
  • Unusual or new mood swings, including rage and aggression.
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol.

Preventing Suicide

If a friend or family member fits the profile and you suspect they will commit suicide, it’s critical to act immediately. You can enlist the aid of other friends and family to come around and support your loved one if he trusts them.

Remain calm and remember to address him with love and compassion. Listen to what he has to say and express your concern rather than your opinion.

If you are uncertain what to say, call a crisis hotline for advice on how to address the issue. If your loved one is in imminent danger, tell the provider on the line. You may need to get him to a hospital right away. Read WikiHow’s article on how to stop someone who is suicidal.

Once a person gets the help he needs, stand ready to support him. That may include getting him to counseling, helping him find a support group, and providing more companionship than you have in the past. Open communication and clear support can help him build and maintain emotional wellness.

Mental Health And Substance Abuse

It’s also important that your loved one gets the right care. Mental health issues such as

anxiety, trauma, and depression often co-occur with drug and alcohol addiction. As mentioned, this can increase the risk of suicide.

Patients like these will need to address both their substance abuse disorder and any underlying mental health issues that it may mask. They may even consider an inpatient rehabilitation program to help keep them safe while they address all concerns.

Anyone can be at danger for suicide, but knowing the risk factors and warning signs can help you determine if someone you know needs help right now. Take action to keep them safe and get the right care before it’s too late.

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