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September 13, 2023
Warning: the following content contains material that is sensitive in nature, including suicide, which may be triggering for some individuals.
Are you or a family member in crisis? Call or text 988 or head to 988lifeline.org.
Today we find ourselves right in the middle of Suicide Prevention Week. It is an important reminder to prioritize our own mental health and support our loved ones who may be struggling.
This week is all about reminders and awareness. It is important to know that there is not one single cause of suicide. There are, however, risk factors and warning signs that you can look out for to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
Mental health conditions are often the first risk factor that comes to mind when discussing the topic of suicide.
But did you know risk factors include physical health conditions such as chronic pain or traumatic brain injury? Environment also plays a part —access to lethal means, stressful life events and personal history with trauma and/or suicide can all increase risk.
While risk factors should be kept in mind as you navigate life with your loved ones, it is essential to keep an eye out for warning signs of suicidal ideation.
If you or a loved one starts to exhibit the following behaviors, consider seeking professional help:
- isolating from family and friends
- sleeping too much or too little
- giving away prized possessions
- loss of interest in doing things one used to enjoy.
It is vital to continue the discussion of what we can to do help protect individuals and keep them mentally healthy. Protective factors are the opposite of risk factors — elements that support individuals and lower their risk profile
Protective factors include:
- access to mental health care
- a proactive approach to mental health
- good connections with family
- community support
- creating a strong sense of purpose or self-esteem
- limiting access to lethal means.
Easier said than done
With all this info top of mind – here is the rub: the challenge is often applying these principles in our lives and with our loved ones.
Here are tips and tricks on how to stay mentally healthy and support loved ones who may be struggling
Know your boundaries:
It is crucial to know your own boundaries when supporting a loved one who may be struggling. Set clear direct boundaries to protect your own mental health and when necessary – direct them to a professional that can assist them in their struggles.
If you or a family member are in crisis you can reach out by calling or texting 988 or chatting at Lifeline (988lifeline.org).
Offer practical support:
When individuals are struggling it can be difficult for them to have the energy to complete basic day-to-day tasks. Offering practical support such as cooking dinner, providing childcare or paying for a cleaning service can have tremendous impact.
By identifying others needs and filling those gaps, we can support them as they navigate challenges and improve their overall mental health.
Have an open conversation with them:
Are you concerned about a loved one who is struggling? One of the first ways to come alongside them is to start a conversation around mental health.
Mental Health and suicidality can be sensitive topics and can create feelings we find uncomfortable. But do not let that stop you from engaging your loved ones.
For tips on how to become more comfortable talking about mental health check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s conversation starter guide.
For more information and resources visit afsp.org. You can also learn how to get involved in the community and discover how you can be an advocate in the fight to stop suicide. Let this Suicide prevention week be a reminder to engage in our own mental health journey and support our loved ones.
For help accessing mental health care feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.