It’s alarming to know that there were 38,364 suicides in 2010 in the U.S. according to the Center of Disease Control. Since the passing of one my favorite actors and comedians, Robin Williams, I have been thinking a lot of about the prevention of suicide. Can suicide be prevented? If so, what is the most effective way to help the hurting person?
One of the most common billboards I see when traveling the highways between Tulsa, OK and DFW, TX is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It’s a free 1-800 number that leaves me wondering if it has any effect on suicidal people. I can’t help but ask my husband, “Do you think people who really, truly want to kill themselves call that number?” I can’t imagine that a stranger picking up the phone would talk me out of any decision that I had already made. This question led me on a quest for understanding.
It was challenging to find studies that were focusing on if the suicide hotlines work. According to Time.com it’s difficult to know how many people are being helped. There are definite stories that end in tragedy and others in at least momentary triumph. One thing that is agreed upon in the studies is people who are in distress and seriously contemplating suicide do call. Most of these callers just want somebody to talk to, somebody to listen.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a very thorough website. It lists out the warning signs for those who are at risk for suicide. It gives treatment options such as medications and psychotherapies. This website also gives way for people to become an advocate and help change the stigma on some of the root causes of suicides like depression and other mental illness.
The reasons people contemplate suicide varies greatly. Prevention depends upon understanding the underlying cause and getting treatment as early as possible. I feel one way we, as a society, can help people who suffer is to stop being judgmental when it comes to depression, mental illness, and addictions. We should be more understanding of those who suffer from these conditions. I urge everyone to click on the links and learn the warning signs and know what to do. You may be able to help save a life!