September is National Suicide Prevention Month and everyone is encouraged to take part in helping save a life. While there have been numerous campaigns designed to combat and prevent suicide, it remains as a public health concern that plague many families. In fact, suicide is one of the topmost causes of deaths in America, especially among young adults.
There are different reasons why people commit suicide. The entire plot of the controversial Netflix TV Series “13 Reasons Why” is all about the reasons why the main character took her own life- ranging from depression, school gossip, bullying, heartbreak, and guilt. While depression and other mental health problems are the primary reasons why people commit suicide, substance abuse also plays a major role in increasing suicide rates.
Substance Abuse and Suicide
According to statistics, over 90% of suicide victims suffer from substance abuse disorder, depression, or both conditions. People who are depressed often turn to drugs and alcohol to forget their problems and repeated use of these harmful substances could lead to addiction. At the same time, people who are suffering from substance abuse often experience depression and other mental health issues. Studies show that drug addiction can be a risk for suicide.
There is also evidence showing that drugs and alcohol could alter the body’s brain chemicals that could result in suicidal thoughts. Using opioids, for instance, is associated with a 75% increased likelihood of attempting suicide and a 40 to 60% increased likelihood of having suicidal thoughts. Addiction to other drugs like illicit drugs, antidepressants, and prescription medications have also been shown to increase suicidal thoughts and attempts.
People suffering from addiction often feel that there’s no future for them anymore, that’s why they think about ending their life. This is especially common for people who have relapsed many times and failed to stay sober. While this can be a difficult and frustrating time, it does not mean that there’s no hope. There have been many inspiring success stories of people who have battled addiction and have turned around their lives for the better.
What to do to help save a life
Over a hundred people in America commit suicide every single day. This unfortunate reality can be prevented with proper awareness about suicide and knowing what to do to help prevent this from happening to your friends and loved ones.
Do you know someone who suddenly started withdrawing from other people? Maybe it’s your sibling, a work colleague, a friend, or someone from your neighborhood. Suicidal thoughts often start when people feel that they’re alone and that they have no one to turn to.
The first step in helping someone out is by offering a listening ear. You can start just by having friendly conversations and letting them know that they have you if they need someone to talk to. If you’re close to the person and you suspect that they might be thinking about suicide, you can ask outright “Are you thinking about suicide?” and ask them how you can help them solve their issues to prevent them from doing so. According to studies, acknowledging and talking about suicide in a non-judgmental way can reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
Don’t Disregard Their Feelings
If people close to you tell you that they are feeling down and depressed, avoid saying “You’ll get over it” or “Toughen Up”. While saying these things may be your way of encouraging them to move on and stay positive, some people may mistake your intentions and think that you don’t care or that you do not recognize their struggles.
Instead of saying these things, ask, “How can I help?” or “What can I do to make you feel better?”. Acknowledging their feelings and offering your help can underline that you are there for them and that they are not alone.
There are times when people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts do not really want to talk about anything or they don’t really need you to do anything for them but what they need is someone to be there for them. If you receive a call from someone who seems to be struggling with depression or other mental health issues, talk to them or if possible, be there for them physically by going to them.
If they invite you to get drunk with them, try to divert their need for alcohol by introducing sober activities they can still enjoy such as watching movies, eating a fancy dinner, or going to a car show. Keep in mind that indulging in alcohol to forget issues can worsen the problem.
Seek Professional Help
What if your loved one is already suffering from serious mental health issues and substance addiction problems? The best thing to do is to seek professional help. There will be instances when communicating and being present are not enough to solve their problems and they need medical help in order to get better.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues, contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.