In the U.S., the issues of depression and suicide are affecting more people than ever before. In 2016, almost 45,000 people took their own lives, and many more are currently dealing with depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.
Suicide itself is becoming an epidemic in the U.S., with the number of people who take their own life on the rise. Suicide isn’t always a result of mental health issues, either – that’s just one problem.
Substance abuse, physical health issues, relationship and family problems, financial issues, and other life crises can all play a part in the journey that leads to suicide.
Whilst over 50% of Americans who take their own life do not have a known mental health problem, this doesn’t mean that mental issues are not present.
In fact, circumstances can prevent mental health issues from being known, reported or diagnosed. Underlying, undiagnosed mental health conditions may be more conducive to suicide rates than we realize. So, what can we do as a society and individuals to help prevent suicide?
#1. Raise Awareness
Speaking out and raising awareness is one of the most effective ways to help combat suicide. The more people who speak out about depression and their own experiences with mental health, the more comfortable others will feel to do the same.
Today you’ll find that many more celebrities are willing to be open and public about their mental health struggles. For those suffering in silence, speaking out and raising awareness helps them understand that they are not alone.
#2. Be a Good Listener
You don’t have to be a qualified doctor or therapist to make a difference in the life of somebody who is suffering from depression. Whether it’s a family member, friend or a work colleague, simply letting them know that you are there for them and willing to listen to them if they need to talk can go a long way.
Even if they never take you up on your offer of a chat, you can be sure that simply knowing the offer is there can have more of a positive effect than you might realize.
The more people who are willing to lend an ear to those who are suffering from mental distress, the easier talking about the issue will become.
In employment settings particularly, adaptivity can be absolutely necessary in helping employees who are suffering with depression to shine. For example, the ability to work from home from time to time, flexible work schedules, access to support when needed, and a voice that is heard will go a long way for somebody who’s trying to focus on their career whilst battling depression.
Understanding how certain treatments might affect an employee’s performance, and making allowances for it, can be necessary to help them get to where they need to be.
#4. Increase Mental Health Support
As a society, we need more qualified mental health professionals and more support for those in need. What’s even more important than that is the need for mental health services to be affordable and accessible to everyone.
In a recent article, Relias Academy explored the many different reasons as to why suicide is on the increase. This ranges from substance abuse, to relationship issues and financial worries. Today, many people battling with depression and other mental health issues are unable to get the help that they need to due to several obstacles.
For example, health insurance policies can often make it difficult to get help for mental health problems, or there may be a complete lack of mental health services available in a patient’s area, leaving them with no option but to travel long distances if they want help.
An increase in options available to mental health sufferers, plus more accessible and widely available resources is necessary to see the statistics improve.
#5. Learn the Warning Signs
Last but not least, understanding depression, suicidal thoughts, and the warning signs involved can help families and friends better recognize when a loved one needs help and support.
Common signs include isolating oneself and seeing oneself as a burden. You may also notice that somebody close to you is struggling to sleep, pulling away from their friends and family and they may be more anxious than usual. They may display self-deprecating behaviors and often feel hopeless or more irritable than usual.
You may worry that they have given up on themselves and have no interest in self-care or participating in activities that they once enjoyed.
Making the effort to help prevent suicide takes a bit of effort, but it’s worth it.