The Deceptive Face of Suicide

The face of suicide can be deceptive. In the past few weeks, the suicides of two celebrity figures have dominated the news cycle. Public reaction included both shock and confusion; shock from their premature deaths, and confusion as to how people who seemingly had it all were driven to take their own lives.  Suicide is tragic and very complicated. The question that hangs in the air is what can one do to be aware, and to possibly interrupt suicidal behavior in our personal spheres of life.

The CDC released some stunning statistics: the tenth leading cause of death for Americans is suicide. To add more statistical surprise to this societal shift, researchers found that more than half of the people who died of suicide did not have a known mental health condition at the time of death.

This we do know- suicide rarely is caused by just one factor. It is often a perfect storm that may include, but not exclusively, difficulties resolving relationship problems, money issues, and/or substance misuses.

If alerted to the possibility of a suicide, what can we do? Courtesy of Be the 1 to, there are five steps that can prove to be helpful:

  1. Ask and do not promise to keep the suicidal thoughts secret. Assistance in focusing on reasons to live is important.
  2. Keep the person safe by seeing if there is a plan or if they have tried it before.
  3. Be there, to limit isolation and increase belonging. Knowing that the hurting person is not alone is critical.
  4. Help the person connect to professional resources like National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) and establish a list of individuals to call.
  5. Follow-up actions have been shown to correlate with a decrease in deaths.  Texting, visiting, and sending caring postcards are just a few examples of ways to follow up.
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, for every person who has completed suicide, there are 280 others who think about it. Translated into personal terms, there is a good chance that each of us has come into contact with someone who has considered suicide.  Being aware and staying alert to the signs of suicide are the first steps in interrupting this tragic trend.

We at GROW Counseling are here to help, and you can reach us at 404-345-4149; and again, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255, if you or someone you know is in need of immediate care.

Sheri Schulze