In the last week, we lost two celebrity New Yorkers to suicide, fashion guru Kate Spade and food and travel guru Anthony Bourdain. Sadly, suicide is increasing among the famous and non-famous, including US Military veterans.
Suicide prevention support services are available FREE in New York City and nationwide to help if you are depressed and contemplating suicide, and to recognize signs in a friend or family member.
Nearly 40,000 people in the United States die each year from suicide, or one person every 13 minutes.
That’s more than the number of people who die from homicide and AIDS combined.
More people die by suicide than from automobile accidents, according to the governmet’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.(SAMHSA).
Suicide prevention support lines
NYC Well operates a 24-hour hotline by phone (888-NYC-WELL) and text (65173) in English, Spanish and Mandarin. You don’t have to be contemplating suicide to use it. You can reach out if you’re just feeling crummy and want support.
New York City operates a system of Crisis Respite Centers where you can stay in a supervised environment for a few days if you don’t want to be alone.
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (273-TALK), or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com for additional resources.
Suicide rates increasing in NYC
According to the NY Times, the suicide rate in New York City has been increasing about 2 percent a year since 2008.
“The thing about suicide is that it’s preventable,” said Dr. Anitha Iyer, the chief clinical officer for the Mental Health Association of New York City.
”There are things you can do if someone you know seems to be at risk for suicide, Dr. Iyer said.
Here is her advice on how to handle such a situation:
How to tell if someone close to you is contemplating suicide
Indicators include talking about wanting to die and looking for a means to accomplish it.
A potentially suicidal person may talk about feeling trapped, hopeless or as if there is no reason to live, and could discuss physical or emotional pain.
Other indicators include increased alcohol and drug use, increasingly dangerous behavior, changes to sleep patterns and isolation.
How to help someone contemplating suicide
“If you’re worried that someone is having suicidal thoughts, ask them,” Dr. Iyer told the NY Times. “There’s a common myth that if you ask somebody if they’re having thoughts of suicide, you’re going to put that thought in their head. We know that’s not the case.”
When you ask, she added, “give them the space to tell you what they’re feeling.”
Keep them safe.
“If they’re telling you they’re having thoughts of suicide, ask them if they’ve thought of how they would do it,” she said. If someone had considered buying a gun, “then help them plan for their safety by taking away the lethal means.”Other things you can do: Be there for them, help them connect to resources, and then follow up. “Let them know that you care,” Dr. Iyer said. “That goes a long way.” (More resources can be found at bethe1to.com.)
Things you should not say or do
Avoid saying anything that will shut the person down and prevent them from letting you in.
“It isn’t helpful to negate or invalidate,” Dr. Iyer said. “Like, ‘No, you’re not really feeling that way.’” That stops the conversation.
Today, as always, let’s look out for each other.
Suicide also is a tragedy for the survivors – the husbands, wives, lovers, parents, friends and especially the children left behind to struggle the rest of their lives with the guilt.
Suicide prevention graphic courtesy North Carolina Health News