September brings mental health to forefront
With this month being dubbed National Suicide Prevention Month, now is a great time to take stock of your mental health and wellness.
According to the Alabama Department of Mental Health, suicidal thoughts can arise in anyone, regardless of age, gender or social condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all ages in the U.S. and the second most common cause of death among young adults ages 10-34. Alabama had 821 reported suicides in 2021.
As the ADMH encourages, suicide is completely preventable, and we can all help minimize suicide in our community by recognizing the warning signs, discussing our thoughts, encouraging prevention and resilience, eliminating stigma and committing to social change.
With this in mind, we wanted to encourage you to take some time this month to carefully consider your mental wellbeing and maybe check in with your loved ones.
Of course, not every bad mood or down day is an indicator that someone is approaching a suicidal state, and we would never want to imply that. But as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline explains, individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment. If you think someone in your circle of influence is exhibiting concerning signs, it can’t hurt to approach them with compassion and offer an ear or shoulder.
The National Institute of Mental Health shares the following warning signs that someone might be at immediate risk for attempting suicide:
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order, such as making a will
- Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
- Talking or thinking about death often
- Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
- Making a plan or looking for ways to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling great guilt or shame
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Changing eating or sleeping habits
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
If you yourself are feeling emotional distress, having suicidal thoughts or think your mental state might be tending that direction, please, please reach out for help. Don’t wait, and don’t keep it to yourself. You are not alone, and there are people who care about you. If you don’t feel you can talk to someone you know, for free confidential support 24/7, call or text 988 to be connected to a trained counselor.