Every life holds value

It is important to know how to help spread suicide awareness


Infographic by Alexis Bahensky

Suicide rates have been on the rise in the past years and because of this, more awareness must be brought to the issue.

Alexis Bahensky, Cartoonist

Each year, the month of September is dedicated to educating the public on how they can help spread suicide awareness. In our generation, it has become increasingly important to spread this awareness. 

This is not something to take lightly. A person taking their own life is devastating. Suicide took the lives of 47,173 Americans in the last year. Though it doesn’t seem like much compared to the United States population of 328 million, it’s still important to recognize and have a conversation about.

Regarded as a major concern, it continues to get less awareness than it should. Almost all of the attention regarding suicide happens during September. Throughout the rest of the year, little is said or done. If the topic is only highlighted during one month out of twelve, how can people expect there to be a difference before the next year? Suicide is something that should receive the attention it gets during this month all year long. What surprises me the most is that people raise more awareness for homicides. Twice as many deaths happen because a person decided to take their own life rather than the life of another, yet more recognition goes toward people taking others’ lives. If the same type of recognition put towards homicide was directed to suicide awareness than the rates would be far lower than they are now.

Globally, rates have been decreasing little by little each year, while the rates in the US continue to climb. The number of deaths from suicide has increased since the early 2000s by 31% (from 10.7 to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 people) within the US. Comparing this to the country itself, the numbers and statistics seem small, but compared to other countries it’s a large increase. Other countries’ rates are declining because of the actions sent into motion. For example, the UK appointed a suicide prevention minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, back in 2018. Since then, suicide has become less common within their borders.

While rates are lower in countries, it is not fully known what led to the rise in the US compared to the rest of the world. However, two main predictions have surfaced within the last decade. These reasons include the popularity of social media and lower average incomes. These factors are mainly directed to the American population. There are many other contributors, but those two remain major factors. Though this may be true, the main reason suicide rates have increased is because people don’t take action. People are all talk. They say they care, but don’t show it. To make a real difference people need to put their words into actions. 

There are countless ways people can help. Most people think just because they are one person whatever they do will change nothing. That’s not true. A common way to help bring awareness to suicide is something that is said to cause it: social media. We can make social media a friendly and supportive platform for those struggling with their mental health. A single post could save a person’s life by showing them they are worth it. They are worth saving because people care enough to take action and show their support. 

Another way to help is to listen. While it seems like a simple task, it can be hard to truly know someone’s true intentions. “They didn’t seem like they would take their own life.” “But they were so happy. I don’t know why they would even think of doing such a thing when their life was going so well.” Those are common reactions, but they shouldn’t be. They are a result of not truly listening to what someone else has to say. In today’s world, people are more focused on themselves and to get what they have to say out there, rather than taking time to listen and understand one another. If someone takes just five minutes to sit down with someone and just listen, they could end up saving the person’s life. Listening is the best option that is out there because you get to understand what that person is going through.

It’s important to know and be able to spot the warning signs of suicidal intentions. Warning signs include:

  • Talking about killing oneself, or wanting to die
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself
  • Talking about having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped, or about unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Getting too much or too little sleep
  • Increase use of drugs or alcohol
  • Action anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Isolating themselves or feeling isolated;
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

If you spot any of these signs in yourself or in another, it is vital to get help right away. A main resource available to everyone is the National Suicide Hotline (800-273-8255). This hotline is available every hour of every day, 365 days a year. They provide someone to talk to if no one else will and will provide help in any way they can. Some may feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger over the phone. The best option for these people is to talk to a trusted adult such as a parent/guardian or a counselor. These people only want the best for you and talking to them can only do you good.

We can’t get rid of suicidal thoughts and intentions completely, but we can help lower suicidal rates in our own communities. We can make people feel like their life matters because every life, no matter gender, skin color, sexuality or economic class is important. Post to social media, put up posters around your school and community and just take the time to listen to others.

Remember, there are always people who care and who are willing to support you through the tough times. Don’t take your own life because the world seems dark. It will get better and will continue to get better as awareness grows, not only throughout the world but in our own communities.

(Many sources are available including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-825, Crisis Text Line and Safe2Help.)