Holidays Underscore Need to Prevent Suicide

We’ve all seen the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”. At his wit’s end, George Bailey considers killing himself, only to be rescued by an angel who shows him just how valuable his life is.

Oregon Partnership Crisis Line staff and volunteers are every day angels. They received over 19,000 suicide calls in 2011. While 99 percent of suicide calls are de-escalated, there has been an increase in the need for suicide “rescues” – the point at which they have to intervene in a suicide attempt. The holidays can cause people to become particularly vulnerable.  Last December, crisis line personnel had to perform five rescues in just a two hour period.

“We are seeing more intense pain with the holidays and the ongoing difficult economy” says Leslie Storm, Oregon Partnership Crisis Line supervisor. “People are hurting and just don’t feel they can cope with the pain. We help them find alternatives.”

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Despite wanting the pain to stop, most suicidal people wish there was an alternative to killing themselves, but they just can’t see one. Suicide can be prevented.

The top causes for suicide are untreated depression and other untreated mental illnesses. The stigma surrounding those mental health issues are an obstacle to seeking help and acts to enable the choice. Addressing the issue directly offers the most hope for suicide prevention.

Suicidal people usually give warning signs. The best way to prevent suicide is to know and watch for these warning signs and to get involved if you spot them:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Seeking out lethal means
  • Preoccupation with death
  • No hope for the future
  • Self-loathing, self-hatred
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Saying goodbye
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Sudden sense of calm
  • Increased alcohol and drug use

 

“Many people see the signs and don’t know what to do or worry they are inadequate to the situation,” said Storm. “We can help them find the words to say and actions to take to prevent suicide.”

If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, call the free and confidential Oregon Partnership Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE.

It is a wonderful life, sometimes we just can’t see it.

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