Suicidal thoughts are not limited to any one kind of person. Based on data, we know that all ages, genders, and backgrounds are known to have thoughts about suicide and to act on them.
It would be nice to think that only one type of person - one age, one gender, or one socioeconomic background - is at risk, so that we could identify them, rally around them, and offer them support and help when they need it.
But, facts show that each suicide act is unique. Some people give warning signs; others do not. Some people fall into high risk groups or have been diagnosed with a mental illness, but others do not.
The reality is that people who consider suicide are people we know - friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Which makes each of us a part of the solution.
This month, in honor of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, commit to taking one step to educate yourself about suicide and the signs of suicidal thoughts. There are plenty of resources out there and your knowledge may one day offer help and hope to someone in need.
Here are some warning signs of suicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
Increased alcohol and drug use
Withdrawal from friends, family and community
Dramatic mood swings
Impulsive or reckless behavior
The Alliance reminds people that suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency and help should be sought immediately if these behaviors are seen:
Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
Giving away possessions
Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
Saying goodbye to friends and family
Seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is another resource; as is, locally, the Samaritans of New Bedford Fall River at 508-673-3777.
For more information on suicide prevention, visit NAMI here.