Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people..
- World Health Organization
Know the facts.
Consider the language we use. We often say that someone has “committed” suicide. Consider that people “commit” crimes or “commit” sins. We want to use language that is more factual and say that someone has “died by suicide” in the same way that we might say that someone has “died in a car accident.”
Knowing the signs is a start, but not enough. Suicide can be prevented, but we must recognize that the task cannot fall on the shoulders of one person, one family, one agency, or one approach.
In addition to the five signs of emotional suffering above, below are some important signs that a youth may be suicidal.
- Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
- Talking or writing about death, dying, suicide
- Seeking access to pills, weapons, or other means to end their life
- Acting recklessly or engaging in dangerous activities
- Feeling trapped
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Giving away their possessions
- Having dramatic change in mood (can be suddenly happy or in a good mood because they have made the decision to end their life)
If you suspect that someone may be having suicidal thoughts, let them know what you have noticed. For example, you might say, “I notice that you have been talking a lot lately about death and dying.” Communicate your concerns and let the person know that you are there for them. Let the person know that thoughts of suicide are not uncommon. Furthermore, suicidal thoughts do not have to be acted on.
It is important to ask the person calmly, directly and without dread, “Are you having thoughts of suicide? Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Not everyone is going to answer these questions truthfully, but many people have shared that they are relieved that someone has noticed the severe pain and anguish they are experiencing. It is a myth that asking someone directly about suicide will put the idea in their head.
- What are some possible warning signs that a person may be having suicidal thoughts?
SAFTY Santa Barbara County CALL: 1-888-334-2777 SAFTY is for Crisis Calls Only. For general inquiries please call (805) 445-7800. Safe Alternatives for Treating Youth (SAFTY) is a mobile crisis response service available from 8am to 8pm daily to all Santa Barbara County children and families. (casapacifica.org website is resource)