September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of mental health and the impact of suicide on individuals, families, and communities.

This month is an opportunity to come together to learn more about suicide prevention, mental health, and how to support those in need. Understanding the risk factors for suicide, recognizing the signs of someone in distress, and knowing how to act to help are all important steps in suicide prevention.

With the right knowledge and resources, we can all play a part in creating a world where suicide is no longer a major public health concern.

Who is most at risk for suicide?

Although mental health issues don’t discriminate, some people are at higher risk for suicidal ideation and completing suicide. There are several known risk factors and specific populations that are disproportionately affected, but it’s essential to keep in mind that while statistics can help highlight trends and high-risk groups, they do not predict individual behavior. Each individual’s circumstances and experiences are unique.

In 2021, the suicide rate among males was about four times higher than that among females, as reported by the CDC. Despite comprising only 50% of the population, males accounted for nearly 80% of suicides. The CDC also said that people ages 85 and older have the highest rates of suicide. Certain groups experience significantly higher rates of suicide. In 2021, the racial/ethnic groups that reported the highest rates were non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and non-Hispanic White individuals.

Also at higher risk are Military personnel and veterans, LGBTQIA+ youth, and individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders. Those with mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders, are at a significantly higher risk. Almost 50% of individuals who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness at the time of their death.

Misconceptions about suicide

Suicide is a complex and challenging topic to discuss. It is marked by a myriad of misinterpretations and myths that often cloud our understanding and can potentially hinder effective prevention. In an attempt to shed light on this grave issue and foster more open and helpful conversations, let’s address and correct some of the most common misconceptions about suicide:

Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Fact: Anyone who talks about suicide or expresses suicidal thoughts should be taken very seriously. It’s a myth that those who discuss suicide are only seeking attention. In reality, most people who die by suicide have communicated their intent in some way before they act.

Myth: Only individuals with a mental health disorder are suicidal.
Fact: While it’s true that many people who die by suicide have a mental health condition, not everyone who is suicidal is mentally ill. Various factors, including traumatic experiences, stress, a sense of isolation, or financial difficulties, can contribute to feelings of despair that may lead to suicide.

Myth: Suicide is an act of selfishness.
Fact: This common myth is deeply misguided. People who contemplate suicide often feel an intense sense of despair and believe their loved ones would be better off without them. It’s important to recognize that suicide is, more often than not, the result of profound emotional pain and distress rather than an act of selfishness.

Myth: If a person is determined to kill themselves, nothing will stop them.
Fact: This is a particularly dangerous myth. Every life can be saved, and every gesture of support and understanding can make a significant difference. Suicidal ideation is often temporary and situation-specific. Access to timely mental health support and care can be life-saving.

Myth: Discussing suicide might plant the idea in someone’s head.
Fact: Opening up a conversation about suicide does not increase its likelihood. It can provide relief to someone feeling isolated with their thoughts and can pave the way for them to seek help. Encouraging people to talk about their feelings can be crucial in suicide prevention.

Myth: People who attempt suicide are just trying to manipulate others.
Fact: This is not true. Suicidal gestures or attempts are severe cries for help from someone in distress and should never be dismissed or taken lightly. It’s crucial to respond empathetically and ensure they get professional help.

By debunking these myths, we can collectively encourage a better understanding of suicide, foster empathy towards those experiencing suicidal thoughts, and promote actions that can effectively support and help save lives.

The Warning Signs: Recognizing the Risk

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide is crucial for early intervention and potentially saving lives. However, it’s important to remember that these signs may vary among individuals, and not everyone considering suicide will show these signs. Even so, these indications should always be taken seriously. Here are some common warning signs that someone may be thinking about suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, feeling alone, or having no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Remember, recognizing these signs and acting promptly can save lives. Always take these signs seriously, and encourage the person to speak with a mental health professional or a trusted person in their life. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crises or emotional distress. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call or text “988” to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and ask for help.

If you or someone you know is grappling with suicidal thoughts or severe symptoms of a mental health condition, remember: you are not alone, and help is available. Serene Health is ready and waiting to help you navigate through this challenging time. We are a one-stop shop for behavioral health and mental health services, including individual, family, and couples therapy. We also offer flexible appointments through our telehealth platform so you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit to schedule an appointment.

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