Did you know that this is the time of year when most suicides happen?
Many people think suicides are more likely to occur during the winter holidays when stress levels rise and the expectation of happiness can make some people feel left out in the cold.
But surprisingly, records show that suicide death rates actually peak in spring.
Beyond references to April being "the cruelest month," there doesn't seem to be an agreed upon set of reasons for why suicides rise as the weather warms. Some suggest it's the shift from winter's hibernation to spring’s more social activities that adds pressure and brings on thoughts of suicide.
Others, including Steven Schlozman, MD and Gene Beresin, Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, say that spring is when manic behavior increases, which can lead to more self-destructive behavior.
But we don't need to know the reasons behind the increase to pay more attention to our own support systems and the support we give others who may be experiencing difficult times.
"Just as we worry more about asthma during seasons when pollen increases, it behooves us to be more vigilant for suicidal thinking and behavior as the season changes from cold to warm," Schlozman and Beresin say in their article, Spring Suicide: An (Un)Likely Combination?.
With that in mind, here's a link to BeThe1To.com's five action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal for a quick refresher course this season. Some of these steps will be familiar as ways to help anyone in a crisis, like, for example, simply being there for a person by being physically present, calling, or texting them.
Others, like directly asking a person,'Are you thinking about suicide?' can feel much more risky for many of us to take. We can't help but think that by raising the subject we may actually be causing the person to begin thinking about taking their own life.
But, according to the BeThe1To.com site, asking people who are at risk for suicide if they are suicidal doesn't increase their suicidal thoughts. "In fact," the site says, "studies suggest the opposite: findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation."
In addition to these supportive actions, there are specific ways to keep an individual safe, help them connect, and follow up with them afterwards to see how they are doing. The BeThe1To.com site is a great read to learn more about each of these steps. In particular, see this page, where all five action steps are described in detail.
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