Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Your Life Matters

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If you’ve had thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. Almost 4 percent of Americans -- that’s about 8 million people -- consider suicide each year.(1) Suicidal thoughts include:

Feeling like you are trapped and need to escape your life.
Feeling life is hopeless, that things will never get better.
Feeling that the pain or sadness will never stop.
Fixating on death or dying, or believing your life isn’t important.
Thinking that your loved ones would be happier if you were gone.

Even if these aren’t your exact thoughts, if the idea of ending your life sounds like a better choice than living, you might be plagued with suicidal thoughts. This kind of thinking can torment you, but there is help -- and hope.

Suicide Resources

Start by trying to understand why you are feeling this way. If you’ve had thoughts of suicide (2) you may be too ashamed or scared to tell anyone, but that keeps you isolated and alone. You may even think no one will care. The truth is--you have value and your life is important, even if you cannot see that right now. Take the time to reach out and learn more. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. You can get help by:

Opening up to someone you trust like a teacher, coach, neighbor or a clergy member.
Talking to someone who has noticed you’ve been acting different and asking you if you are okay.
Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
Avoiding substances like drugs and alcohol that may make you feel worse(3).
Making an appointment with your doctor or a counselor.
Researching holistic methods like exercise, therapy dogs and loving kindness meditation (4).

Long-term Prevention

Suicide occurs every 13 minutes in the Unites States, according to the Center for Disease Control.(5) While there are many statistics, every situation is different. That’s why it is so important you never give up hope. You can make a long-term prevention plan that helps to reduce pain and symptoms by: (5)

Learning to recognize the warning signs.
Understanding the thoughts that trigger suicidal thoughts and how to avoid them.
Using breathing and stress-reducing techniques to ease anxiety.
Making your home safe.
Visiting your mental health professional regularly, and increasing visits when times are especially rough.

Sometimes caring for someone else helps you care more deeply for yourself. That’s just one of many reasons therapy dogs (6) are beneficial for people with suicidal thoughts, especially if they stem from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not only can a therapy dog help you break the cycle of suicidal thoughts, they are also trained to recognize, alert you to and provide comfort during panic attacks, deep bouts of depression and other moments of distress.

Suicide & Depression

Studies show that major depression increases your risk of suicide by nearly 20 percent.(7) Almost 20 million Americans battle depression each year. Depression doesn’t mean you’re weak or bad; it is a medical condition. Depression can be a risk factor of suicide, especially when it stems from the loss of a loved one, family history of depression or mental illness, childhood trauma or a deep, but unknown, feeling of loss or hopelessness.

More than half of the people who die by suicide are depressed at the time. Think about that -- depression comes in waves. There are low points and then there are times when you feel better. Focus on the times when you felt better to remind yourself that this low point is only temporary.

Focusing on caring for an animal (8) that loves you unconditionally helps, too. Even though they are working to help care for you (some therapy dogs even know when to bring you medication!), they need you to care for them. It’s a beautiful relationship that can bring meaning and purpose into the darkest moments of your life.

The above article is from Jennifer Scott



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