CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — September is Suicide Prevention Month, and many organizations aim to lend a hand to offer help for those in mental pain.
According to the World Health Organization, there is an estimated 700,000 suicides per year worldwide. Angela Horner with NAMI Greater Corpus Christi told 3News Suicide Prevention Month has a personal connection for her.
"It means a lot to me. My nephew died by suicide when he was 25, that was almost 13 years ago," Horner said. "Ever since then I've been on a mission to educate others, to teach people about the warning signs and symptoms."
Another day aiming to bring awareness is September 10. World Suicide Prevention Day was established in 2003, and aims to focus attention on the issue, reduce stigma and raise awareness among organizations, governments, and the public, giving a singular message that suicides are preventable.
"We need to talk about every day of the year, we do post on social media, we encourage people to talk about it."
Horner said it is a topic that should happen more than once a year. "Even though not all suicides are related to a mental health condition, it still tied into the conversation, so we talk about it as much as we can."
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are several signs you can be on the lookout for:
- Wanting to die
- Great guilt or shame
- Being a burden to others
- Empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live
- Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage
- Unbearable emotional or physical pain
Changing behavior, such as:
- Making a plan or researching ways to die
- Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items, or making a will
- Taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Eating or sleeping more or less
- Using drugs or alcohol more often
"For the Corpus Christi community, we want everyone to know that suicide is preventable." Horner said. "If you know the warning signs, we want people to ask the question, 'are you thinking about killing yourself?' Its hard to say at first."
There are five steps that can help someone in emotional pain:
ASK: "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" It's not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
KEEP THEM SAFE: Reducing a suicidal person's access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number (call or text 988) and the Crisis Text Line number (741741) in your phone so they're there if you need them. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
STAY CONNECTED: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
"People are afraid to admit there is something wrong, because then they realize they need help. A lot of people have trouble asking for help."
Horner also said there has been an improvement in the Coastal Bend, but there is still a long way to go. Research has shown it takes an average of hearing about something seven times, before they actually take action on it.
"A lot of people don't know, the 988 suicide lifeline is not only for someone who is having suicidal ideation, family members of someone can reach out."
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