Suicide Prevention Week: Spreading Awareness

Noemi David, Wellness Editor

The month of September is known for many things, including the Autumnal Equinox, Labor Day, Patriots Day, and much more. However, September also is National Suicide Prevention Month, and spreading awareness about this serious topic is vital.

September 5th to September 11th is known as Suicide Prevention Week. This is the week to spread awareness about suicide and educate society to prevent it. Suicide is a sensitive topic and is commonly avoided. According to “Suicide and Stigma,” an article from, “Misunderstanding, ignorance, and fear are at the root of stigmatization, and these factors have inflicted immense suffering on those who are in any way perceived as ‘not normal.’” Because of this stigma, people who struggle with suicidal thoughts or tendencies have a challenging time opening up. Spreading awareness makes it easier for people to express their emotions, and more of them can be aided. 

If someone is thinking about committing suicide, they will exhibit specific signs. They may vary among individuals, but the ability to identify these signals is the first step in preventing suicide. One can spot said signs from changes in an individual’s behavior, specifically from what is said or done. The article “Risk Factors and Warning Signs,” from states that people may be struggling with suicidal thoughts  if they constantly talk about, “…killing themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped, and unbearable pain.” Changes in behavior, according to the article, include, “increased use of alcohol or drugs, looking for a way to end their lives, such as researching online methods, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, aggression, and fatigue.” Lastly, changes in mood include, ‘depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, humiliation/shame, agitation/anger, relief/sudden improvement.” These are just a few of the many signs that someone is planning to end their life. When talking to friends, family, or even classmates, try to look out for these signs. 

To attempt to prevent suicidal actions, show support for a friend or family member who is showing warning signs. According to “Recognizing Suicide Behaviors: Risk Factors, Warning Signs, What to Do,” from, “People who receive support from caring friends and family and who have access to mental health services are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than are those who are isolated from support.” The person needs to know that they have someone whom they can confide in, someone who will take them seriously and not judge. Ask them if they have or have considered hurting themselves. Make sure to not judge them while they’re speaking. Judging them will only make them regret opening up, which is the last thing anyone wants.” The article suggests to, “remove any objects that can be used in a suicide attempt.” It’s also advised to urge them to call suicide support services, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or text hotlines such as Crisis Textline at 741-741. Keep them calm until they get a response from the hotlines. If they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone. Calm them down and call 911, or take them to the ER of the nearest hospital. 

Saugus and District School Social Worker and Foster Youth, Liaison Ira Rounsaville, suggests that if oneself or a loved one is suicidal, they should “… seek mental health treatment immediately by calling 9-1-1, calling a suicide hotline (800-273-8255) and/or going to the hospital/mental health facility for admission. I would also encourage them to tell somebody how they’re feeling/their thoughts of suicide. This should particularly be a trusted person that will support them during this time to receive help. It can be a peer/friend, family member or trusted adult.” He also suggests to “alert those who can support and protect the individual (beit other family members or those who can immediately provide support to them). Lastly, as much as possible, they should stay with that person or make sure that person isn’t left alone, until they know they are safe or in the safety of others/someone else.”

 Some mental health resources that he has advised people with suicidal tendencies to use are: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), The Trevor Project (for LGBT youth) (24 hr), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Teen Line (6pm-10pm) 1-800-852-8336, Anxiety BC Youth, and Healthy Place. If students need someone to talk to at school, they can go to Rousanville. “I personally help those who have suicidal thoughts by using my clinical training in social work to talk them through what’s going on and I work to get them any additional support they may need, including connecting them with other mental health professionals and resources,” he says. Students can find him in his office at the administration building, or at lunch and brunch in the Serenity Space.

Spreading awareness is easy. This can be done through social media, hosting events, or simply just becoming an expert on the cause, according to How to Raise Awareness for a Cause? | iConnectX. Spreading the word about suicide and how to prevent it will remove the stigma around it. Suicide awareness is a difficult topic to address, but so many lives can be saved if action is taken.