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Sharp Health News

How you can help prevent suicide

Sept. 10, 2018

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. But it doesn't have to be. We can all help by educating ourselves on suicide — and helping friends and loved ones take care of their mental health.

We asked Charles Westfall, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, to share suicide warning signs, risk factors and prevention tips. Together we can shed light on this too-common issue, and potentially help save a life.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, seek help as soon as possible. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

How you can help prevent suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. By knowing the warning signs of suicide and ways to prevent it, you could help save a life. Keep a watchful eye. There is no single cause of suicide, but there are warning signs: Talking about wanting to die, increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing or showing signs of isolation, talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, talking about being a burden to others, displaying extreme mood swings. Know the risk factors. Certain health conditions and environmental and historical factors can heighten the chance that a person may take their own life. Health conditions: depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder, chronic health conditions. Environmental factors: stressful life events, access to lethal weapons (including firearms and drugs), exposure to another person's suicide. Historical factors: previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide attempts.How you can help. If someone you know is showing warning signs or has any risk factors, take action right away: 1. connect and share, let them know you are concerned. 2. Be direct, ask them: are you thinking of killing yourself? 3. Encourage, support them in getting help or get help for them. 4. Assist, if you can restrict access to lethal means, do so. 5. create a plan, write down phone numbers of people to call in case they start having suicidal thoughts. 6. Dial 911, if it seems they may harm themselves, get help right away. Do not leave them alone. From the expert: For people with mental health conditions, a combination of medication and talk therapy is critical. If symptoms aren't well-managed, the illness can alter the interaction between the individual and their environment. - Charles Westfall, licensed marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

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