In the United States, the Congress appointed the Saturday before Thanksgiving as Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The purpose of this day is for friends and family members who lost a loved one to suicide to come together to support each other.
In 1999, Sen. Harry Reid introduced National Survivors of Suicide Day to the United States Senate. Reid’s inspiration for the day stemmed from surviving his father’s suicide. Initially, the United States coined the day as National Survivors of Suicide Day. In time, individuals from other countries began to honor and respect the day, as well. So, the name eventually changed to International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day so people all around the world could take part.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors the program every year. Events spanning across hundreds of cities on six different continents take place every year on the Saturday right before the American Thanksgiving. Events feature people sharing personal stories and psychiatric professionals offering advice to those who want it.
Suicide: Warnings, Risk Factors, and Prevention
There is not a singular cause to death by suicide. In most cases, stress beyond someone’s coping abilities or a mental condition is the cause of suicide. To help prevent yourself from becoming a survivor of suicide and to support those who are survivors, it helps to learn more about suicide.
Warning Signs and Risks
A sudden change in behavior or appearance is a sign that someone is suicidal. This is especially true if the sudden change follows a painful event or recent change. Many people who commit suicide show several warning signs beforehand. A person might be suicidal if:
- They talk about being a burden.
- They talk about feeling trapped.
- They talk about hurting themselves.
- They talk about not having a reason to live.
- They withdraw.
- They give away prized possessions.
- They become reckless.
- They abuse alcohol or drugs.
- They reach out to old friends and family members to say goodbye.
- They are depressed, angry, irritable, or sad.
Risk factors are health, environmental, and historical reasons why a person might commit suicide. For example, if your father and his father committed suicide, you are likely to as well because of your genetics. Environmental factors include things such as stressing out about your daily life. Health factors include mental conditions, as well as side effects from medication.
If you – or someone you know – experiences several of these symptoms, it is important to get help. Sometimes a person in this situation just needs someone to talk to so they can wade their way through it all. In other cases, a person many need medication to help with their mood and emotions.
Today, there is just one medication – clozapine – approved by the FDA for reducing suicide risk for individuals who have schizophrenia. Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective psychotherapy for individuals who attempted suicide. Dialectical behavioral therapy is a treatment intended for individuals with personality disorders who are at risk of committing suicide.
Studies and therapies are still in the works to find the best course of treatment for suicide. If someone is suicidal, taking them to a hospital and putting them on suicide watch is the best course of action. To prevent suicide, you should be observant of your friends, family members, and patients.
The most important thing for survivors of suicide to keep in mind is that you should never blame yourself. Suicide does not have a single cause, and there are situations where a person never shows signs of being suicidal.
Don’t forget to check out our article, “Nurses coping with suicide,” to learn how nurses deal with suicide.