Warning signs, awareness key to preventing suicides

Healthy Living

Warning signs, awareness key to preventing suicides

As we rapidly approach the end of another year, there are a lot of things to look forward to: cooler weather, time with family and the holidays among them.

But these can also cause feelings of stress and worry for many of America’s workers dealing with winter weather, traveling and post-holiday bills. For some, the end of the year can bring about substance abuse and severe depression.

This week, the American Association of Suicidology recognizes National Suicide Prevention Week to encourage those in need getting the help they need.

“Our physical health is often more obvious and apparent – thus easier to identify issues and address. There are easy measures (weight or BMI) which tell us when we are unhealthy and we can remedy it with known strategies,” said Michelle Jackson, assistant vice president in Workforce Solutions at Unum.

“Often inherent in mental health issues is a degree of denial – we are often in denial of mental health issues and are even less aware of what is happening, what treatment options are available or even how to discuss it with someone.”

According to the AAS, you should be concerned if you witness, hear, or see anyone exhibiting any one or more of the following warning signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes

 “If we all could develop greater awareness, acceptance and advocacy around mental health issues – it would benefit everyone,” Jackson said. ” If we could develop this awareness and be open to changes — in our concentration, our performance, our emotional functioning — noticing when things decline and reaching out for help. And more specifically on an individual level – stress management, mindfulness and resiliency training are all excellent strategies for alleviating stress and potential more serious issues.”

For many, getting the right help at the right time can be a matter of life and death.

According to the AAS, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, representing more than 42,000 fatalities annually.

Males are three times as likely as females to take their own lives, and suicides represent 3 percent of all deaths in middle-aged adults, between 45 and 64.

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