If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
Suicide is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2019:
• Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,500 people.
• Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
According to the CDC and NIMH, suicide rates have increased by 35% since 1999. More than 48,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2018 alone. Comments or thoughts about suicide — also known as suicidal ideation — can begin small like, “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nothing matters.” But over time, they can become more explicit and dangerous.
The NAMI website shares the following 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.
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. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t have instructions or resources on how to help or what to expect (like the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR). NAMI has created Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency, so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it.