Resources & Education

September 19th, 2018

Suicide Awareness: Risk Factors

If you notice a friend or loved one that may be contemplating suicide, don’t hesitate to enlist help. If you suspect there’s a problem, be proactive and continually encourage your friend or loved one to seek treatment.

Risk factors of suicide can include, but are not limited to:

  • History of mental health disorders, including depression
  • Substance use disorder
  • Past suicide attempts or family history of suicide
  • Media attention of suicide
  • Physical or chronic illness
  • Recent impacting loss (financial, career-related, spousal)
  • Feeling of hopelessness

If you have a friend or loved one who may be at-risk of suicide, be aware and active about prevention. Until you can convince your loved one to pursue therapy or mental health treatment, the following list can also aid in helping prevent suicide.

  1. Be on alert. Look for signs of withdrawal from others, work, social settings, or society in general. Watch behaviors to see if your friend or loved one mentions suicide, dying, self-hatred, no hope for the future, etc., and seek help if the issue seems probable. In many cases, it may be a cry for help, so it’s better to be available and offer help.
  2. Have a conversation. Let your friend or loved one know you are there and available for support. Listen to their concerns and offer hope. Be sure to take the person seriously, not dismissing odd or uncharacteristic behavior. You can and should ask “Are you thinking about harming yourself?”or “Do you have the means or a plan to kill yourself?”
  3. Act swiftly in a crisis. If you see any warning signs, do not wait; contact professional help immediately. Keep an eye on your loved one and look for any indication they have a suicide plan in place. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it may be time to seek medical help.
  4. Encourage professional treatment. In the end, your friend or love one should probably seek treatment. Do you best to encourage, facilitate, and convince them to talk with a professional. You can be there, but you should not be the only help they receive. Horizon Health Services offers help and support for individuals and loved ones in Western New York. Call us today at (716) 831-1800.

If you know someone who is at risk, reach out for help. If the threat is imminent, call 9-1-1 or crisis services.

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