September is National Suicide Prevention Month—How Can You Help a Loved One who is Struggling?

September is National Suicide Prevention Month—How Can You Help a Loved One who is Struggling?

September is designated National Suicide Prevention Month, aiming to raise awareness on this heartbreaking issue impacting far too many. Suicide tragically claims nearly 50,000 lives yearly, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. This month reminds us to reach out to those who may be silently struggling with mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts. It also aims to educate on how to best support loved ones struggling with suicidal ideation. 


By learning common warning signs, you can help a struggling loved one. Here are example behaviors that signal underlying distress:


 – Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live

 – Making jokes about suicide or saying things like “I’d be better off dead” 

 – Displaying extreme mood swings, irritability, or recklessness

 – Giving away prized possessions or suddenly getting affairs in order

 – Saying goodbye as if they won’t be around anymore

 – Withdrawing from friends and family or losing interest in activities


Recognizing these red flags and acting can profoundly impact someone’s life. These warning signs should not be ignored. They can precede a suicide attempt or cry for help. It is also important not to shy away from the topic of suicide. Many times, the best thing you can do is ask directly if your loved one is contemplating suicide and listen without judgment.


If someone confides they’ve considered ending their life, don’t panic. Instead, be there for them to provide emotional support with compassion. Acknowledge their pain and let them know you care and want to help. Do not condemn the thoughts and avoid criticism and lectures. Spending quality time together also reminds the person they are valued and not alone, even if they initially isolate themselves.


While providing emotional support yourself is crucial, you should also help connect them with mental health professionals. Their inner turmoil may run deeper than you realize. Recommend seeing a counselor or therapist, even offering to help find providers and make appointments. If they are in immediate crisis, direct them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or drive them to the emergency room.


The decision to take one’s life is complex and ultimately out of your hands. With patience and compassion, you can support someone by offering unconditional love through the darkest times and give them reasons to stay.


This Suicide Prevention Month, check in on loved ones who seem withdrawn or down. Small gestures to show you care could make a big difference in pulling someone back from the brink. You have the power to remind those struggling they are valued members of your family and community.


Living Well Counseling Center in Tinton Falls offers individualized therapy to men and women ages fifteen and older. If you or a loved one suffer from suicidal thoughts, get in touch today.


TELEPHONE: (732) 440-9330



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