September is National Suicide Prevention Month and this year’s message for anyone contemplating suicide is “You Are Not Alone” – and for everyone else, the message is that we can all help prevent suicide.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office recently demonstrated that by preventing not one, but two suicide attempts last week.
According to the WCSO social media post, “Two young people who wanted to ‘end it all’ are receiving treatment after Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies saved them from jumping off the Natchez Trace Bridge in two separate incidents.”
The first incident occurred on September 7 when Deputy Houston Bagsby was on routine patrol and stopped to check on a man who was walking slowly on the bridge. Deputy Bagsby asked the young man to move away from the bridge railing.
When the man refused, it became clear the man was distraught and quick action was needed to save him. With the help of Deputy Keller Phillips, Deputy Bagsby was able to pull the man away from the railing.
Around 2:30 a.m. Friday, September 11, 2020, Deputy Harry Bellinger answered a call at the Natchez Trace Bridge and found a woman who had driven there from out of state. The deputy said the woman expressed that she felt like a failure in her job.
Deputy Bellinger talked with the woman for about an hour trying to coax her away from the edge of the bridge. Corporal J.C. Knox and Deputy Chris Giannoulis assisted and were able to get close enough to pull her to safety.
Both, the man and woman were transported to a hospital for medical treatment and lived to see another day thanks to quick thinking and a joint effort by the deputies.
It can be frightening if someone you love talks about suicidal thoughts. It can be even more frightening if you find yourself thinking about dying or giving up on life. Not taking these kinds of thoughts seriously can have devastating outcomes, as suicide is a permanent solution to (often) temporary problems.
According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone.
Here are a few other warning signs of suicide:
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911:
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.
Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use. Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication. More than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death.
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss
Support In A Crisis
When a suicide-related crisis occurs, friends and family are often caught off-guard, unprepared and unsure of what to do. The behaviors of a person experiencing a crisis can be unpredictable, changing dramatically without warning.
There are a few ways to approach a suicide-crisis:
- Talk openly and honestly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?”
- Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills
- Calmly ask simple and direct questions, like “Can I help you call your psychiatrist?”
- If there are multiple people around, have one person speak at a time
- Express support and concern
- Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice
- Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong
- If you’re nervous, try not to fidget or pace
- Be patient
Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.