The topic of Suicide often brings up more questions than answers. What is it all about? Why does it happen? Who may be affected? What can I do about it? Where can I get help? It can seem overwhelming at times. While the underlying issues are complex, the strategies for effective coping don't need to be.
Suicidal thoughts and acts can be traced back to times when an individual is facing an overwhelmingly painful life challenge at a time when they feel isolated and powerless to affect any positive change to the situation. They are hurting and want the pain to stop, but lack the knowledge, skills, confidence, and/or resources to work through it. When under the influence of this level of intense pain and stress, seemingly irrational solutions may seem to make sense, the fear of death may be less than the fear of continuing to endure the pain of life.
Who can be affected? Anyone who risks being exposed to a significantly painful life challenges such as divorce, loss of loved ones, professional setbacks, legal challenges, medical diagnosis, mental health issues, exposure to trauma, natural disaster, and financial crisis. Bottom line, any one of us could be affected if we are exposed to the right combination of challenges at the wrong time. We don't like to think about this topic in these terms because we tend to attach negative stereotypes to people who experience suicide-related behaviors. The reality is, any one of us could experience a stress-related injury during our life journey, and we could all exhibit common symptoms of stress injury to include suicidal thoughts and acts during times of crisis.
What can I do about it? We have two options: Intervention and Prevention.
- Intervention: Things I do for you when you are in crisis. This is what we do when we encounter someone who is showing signs of injury such as loss of emotional control, having suicidal thoughts, abusing substances, withdrawing from the people and things they value in life, and showing signs of depression. There are many strategies for intervening on someone's behalf, and without getting too complicated, at the core they require two things: engage and connect. By reaching out and engaging, you let them know they are no longer isolated and there is now hope for a better outcome. By following up our engagement with connection to professional, supportive resources that can help resolve the challenge, you help reinstate their confidence in their ability to overcome this situation and their sense of competence and self-worth.
- Prevention: What I do for myself so I do not require intervention from others. These are the steps we can take on a daily basis to develop our resilience to life challenges, decreasing the likelihood of being overwhelmed. Getting appropriate rest, eating well, exercising, attending to social and spiritual needs, identifying and resolving issues when they are small, actively using resources to gain knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage personal and professional challenges. Being willing to acknowledge that no one knows everything they need to overcome every possible challenge life has to offer. It is okay to reach out and ask for help. No one is ever alone unless they choose to be. There is always someone to turn to if you are willing to do so.
Who can assist me? There are a wide variety of resources to provide guidance, support, and assistance in both prevention and intervention efforts:
|Fleet & Family Support Centers (FFSC)
|Duty Chaplain for Hampton Roads
|Suicide Prevention Hot Line
|Military One Source
|Veteran's Crisis Line
|1-800-273-8255 (Option 1 or text 838255)
|You may also call 911 or go to any emergency room