It’s hard to be human, isn’t it? The pressures of modern life affect everyone to different degrees, and most people are at least aware of mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. Thankfully, these topics are slowly becoming less stigmatized in our society, and people feel more comfortable sharing about their mental health and seeking ways to care for themselves. City Mom Collective has an excellent resource on mental health available for moms. However, suicide is a topic that is still taboo, and one that many people don’t feel comfortable talking about.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Yes, this topic is heavy and feels uncomfortable to discuss. But for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones who may be at risk, we need to make the conversation surrounding suicide less taboo.
Who is at Risk for Suicide?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background can be at risk for suicidal thoughts. Usually this is a result of an untreated mental health condition. There are some groups, however, that are at greater risk for suicide. The sobering facts include:
- 79% of people who die by suicide are men, but more women attempt suicide than men.
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth
- Transgender adults are more than 9x more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
Moms at Risk for Suicide
Postpartum depression and anxiety are real, devastating conditions affecting new moms. Pregnant moms can also suffer. With the right support and sometimes medication, most moms recover and are able to enjoy their babies in their infancy. However, some pregnant and postpartum moms have mental health crises that put them at risk for suicide. These include people with unplanned pregnancies, victims of domestic violence, and people who stop taking antidepressants for fear of hurting their babies. And after giving birth, a rare but dangerous condition known as postpartum psychosis can lead to intrusive thoughts and suicide attempts.
Children and Suicide
It’s hard to imagine a child being in such emotional distress that they would think suicide is the answer. But the sobering truth is it does happen, and it is vital for parents and caregivers to recognize the signs to prevent tragedy.
There are indicators that a child may be at risk for suicide. Of course, these are not always signs that a child may attempt to end their life, but just things to pay attention to in case they point to a more serious problem. Some of these include ADHD, a history of depression, trauma (abuse, neglect, or domestic violence), trouble in school, or family issues like divorce or parental substance abuse.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
You may have heard that this year, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline was created as an alternative to calling 911 during mental health emergencies. If you or a loved one are in emotional distress and/or having suicidal thoughts, you can dial 988 and will be connected to a counselor who will talk to you and direct you to appropriate intervention services if needed. Here are some facts about 988:
- The network is made up of about 200 local crisis centers, and callers will be connected to one closest in proximity to them
- The lifeline is staffed 24/7
- You do not have to be in danger of self harm to call
- You can call if someone you are with is in mental health distress
- The lifeline provides no cost, confidential emotional support
- Live counseling is provided in either English or Spanish, and translation services are available in 150 languages
- There is not a youth-specific hotline or counselors dedicated to youth, but all counselors are trained to support anyone in crisis.
The hope is by having an emergency number solely dedicated to mental health emergencies, more lives will be saved and people in crisis can receive the help they need quickly and efficiently.
Suicide Awareness is so important, and yet so hard to confront and talk about. As moms, we must take care of our own mental health as well as the health of those we love. It’s a lot, but by reaching out for help and support, we can prevent tragedies in our own families and communities.