Suicide prevention is when local organizations, mental health doctors and nurses, and psychologists try to stop people from attempting suicide. One thing to do is stop people who are about to attempt suicide. Another way to stop people from attempting suicide is to treat the symptoms of depression, help people to cope during a time of crisis, reduce the issues that put people at risk of attempting suicide, and give people hope for a better future.
In the U.S., there is a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. It was created by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2001. Suicide prevention activities include messages aimed at people and messages for everyone in the community.
National strategies[change | change source]
In 2001, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The document looks at how suicide can be stopped in the community. The strategy does not say how to help individual people. The document has the following goals:
- Let people know that suicide can be prevented
- Develop support for preventing suicide
- Make sure people do not feel bad about getting help for feeling suicidal
- Start community suicide prevention programs
- Make it harder for people to get dangerous items like guns
- Train doctors and nurses on how to know when a person might attempt suicide
- Help doctors and nurses to get better at helping people who are suicidal
- Creating more links between community services
- Make sure that TV news and newspapers talk about suicide in the right way
- Encourage research on suicide and suicide prevention
- Create more systems to watch people who might attempt suicide
Specific strategies[change | change source]
To help stop people from attempting suicide, many methods have been used:
- Confidential telephone help.
- Encouraging optimism and connections with family and friends.
- Educating people about suicide, including risk factors, warning signs and help.
- Training doctors and nurses and creating crisis phone lines.
- Reducing domestic violence and drug abuse
- Reducing access to toxic substances and handguns
- Reducing amount of medicine in packages of non-prescription medicines e.g. aspirin.
- Trying to help high-risk groups.
- Research. (see below)
It has also been suggested that news media can help prevent suicide by linking suicide with negative results, such as pain for the pain felt by the family.
Interventions[change | change source]
Many methods of stopping suicide exist. These include talking to the person, looking for risks, and making it harder for people to get dangerous items.
Direct talks[change | change source]
The World Health Organization says a good way to help people who are suicidal is to talk to them. The person can also be asked about depression, and if they plan to attempt suicide. Talking with people about suicide does not create suicidal thoughts. The doctor has to show concern and compassion. Doctors should try to reduce sadness and let the person know that people care. The WHO says not to not say everything will be all right. However, some people who have talked about suicide have attempted it. This means that doctors need to make sure the person is comfortable talking about his or her feelings.
Screening[change | change source]
The U.S. Surgeon General says there are ways to find out which people are at risk of suicide. This may be the best way to stop children and adolescents from attempting suicide. There are tools like questionnaires to help doctors to know who is at risk. One example is the Beck Hopelessness Scale. These questionnaires are good for finding adolescents and young adults who might want to attempt suicide. Doctors should interview people who seem to be at risk. Questionnaires may not always tell doctors which person will attempt suicide Asking about suicide does not increase the risk.
In approximately 75 percent of suicides, the people had seen a doctor in the last year. About 45 to 66 percent of people saw a doctor the month they committed suicide. About 33 to 41 percent of those who committed suicide had used mental health services in the prior year. About 20 percent used mental health services in the month before they committed suicide. This shows that doctors need to get better at knowing which people will attempt suicide.
Lethal means reduction[change | change source]
Making it hard for people to get dangerous things is an important part of suicide prevention. Making it hard for people to get dangerous items can lead to less suicides. Putting up fences at bridges and cliffs reduces suicides. Putting up signs or increasing patrols is not so helpful One example of making dangerous items less available is coal gas in the United Kingdom. Until the 1950s, the most common way of committing suicide in the UK was poisoning by inhaling coal gas. In 1958, natural gas was used instead. Natural gas is much less dangerous. So less people committed suicide.
Treatment[change | change source]
About 10% of people with psychiatric problems may have a medical condition that the doctor does not know about which is causing their symptoms. About 50% may have a medical condition that the doctor does not know about which is making their symptoms worse. Illegal drugs and prescribed medications may also cause problems. Treating medical conditions may reduce the risk of suicidal ideas.
Talk therapy can reduce suicidal ideas such as Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Benefits include a reduction in self-harm behaviour and suicidal ideas. Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Suicide Prevention (CBT-SP) helps adolescents at high risk of suicide attempts.
Respect and self-esteem[change | change source]
The World Health Organization states that "worldwide, suicide is among the top five causes of mortality in the 15- to 19-year age group. In many countries it ranks first or second as a cause of death among both boys and girls in this age group". The organization says teens need help with difficult and stressful life situations." It also says that teachers need to prevent bullying and violence at schools.
Support groups[change | change source]
Many non-profit organizations exist that try to prevent suicide. Examples include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the United States, which provide crisis hotlines. In addition, some groups such as To Write Love on Her Arms use social media to reach more people.
Related pages[change | change source]
- List of suicide crisis lines
- World Suicide Prevention Day
- The Jed Foundation
- The Trevor Project
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
References[change | change source]
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- Office of the Surgeon General: The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent Suicide 1999
- Rory C. O'Connor, Stephen Platt, Jacki Gordon: International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice, p. 510 
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Other websites[change | change source]
- CDC website on Suicide Prevention
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
- Stamp Out Suicide!
- The JED Foundation
- American Association of Suicidology Archived 2010-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- International Association for Suicide Prevention
- Samaritans of Singapore