According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 deaths in 2020. People are taking their own lives at an alarming rate, and something needs to change. There need to be more resources for those who are struggling to talk through and work out the feelings that they are having. In 2020, congress passed a new national hotline for those struggling and considering suicide.
988 is the new number to get direct access during a mental health crisis. People in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can get free, confidential emotional help from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers, at any time, seven days a week, in the United States. By empowering people, expanding industry best practices, and raising awareness, Acera Health is dedicated to enhancing crisis services and advancing suicide prevention.
You Are Not Alone
Suicide, mental illness, and crisis support can all be complex topics to talk about. At the new 988 Suicide Hotline, they understand this and want you to know that you are not alone. Whether you are just thinking about suicide or have already made an attempt, know that there are resources available in your community and online that can help guide you along your journey towards recovery and wellness.
The new hotline is a 24/7 service that can be reached by text, phone, or video chat. For those who aren’t comfortable speaking with a human being over the phone, there are options to connect with someone via text message or a live streaming video call. This makes it easy for people to reach out regardless of what time it is or what device they have on hand.
The 988 number is also accessible from anywhere in the United States, no matter where you live or work. The accessibility of the new 988 number can help people feel more comfortable reaching out for help even when they might otherwise feel alone in their struggles.
What Will Happen When You Call?
Before your call is sent to your local Lifeline network crisis center, you will first hear an automated message with more alternatives. While you get connected to a qualified, trained crisis worker, the hotline will play music. The phone will be answered by a skilled crisis worker at your neighborhood center. This individual will be supportive, understand how your issue is hurting you, listen to you, and assist you in receiving the support you require.
How Can You Know if Someone Is Suicidal?
How can you know if someone is suicidal? The following tips can help you spot the signs of suicidal ideation in another individual:
If you’re worried about a friend or family member, ask them directly if they’re thinking about suicide. Asking directly instead of being vague helps the other person not avoid their feelings; this honesty can even be relieving for the individual. Talking openly about your feelings and asking others to do the same can help reduce feelings of isolation and hopelessness.
Look For Warning Signs
If someone is considering suicide, there may be certain things that they say or do that tip off their plan. Pay attention to the following signs:
- Talking about feeling trapped or hopeless
- Appearing sad or moody
- Sudden calmness
- Withdrawing from others
- Changes in personality, appearance, or sleep pattern
- Showing dangerous or self-injurious behavior
- Making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself” or “I wish I were dead”
- Expressing despair over a recent event or ongoing stressor
How Can You Help Someone Who Is Suicidal?
If you think someone is suicidal, your first step should be to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also:
- Listen to the individual
- Do not judge them or tell them what to do
- Do not criticize them or place blame on them
- Empathize with the individual
- Do not try to solve their problems, but encourage them to seek help from a professional
- Connect them with resources and services that can assist them
- Go to the nearest emergency room (ER)
Take It Seriously
It can be challenging to know how to respond when someone close to you talks or acts in a suicidal way. You may feel that it’s your responsibility to stop them from killing themselves, which can be difficult. Suicidal behavior is a symptom of an underlying mental health problem. Try to keep in mind that the person you are helping is not in a clear state of mind. You should not leave a person in crisis alone. If you cannot stay with them, call 911 and wait at the location until help arrives.
Feeling suicidal or having someone around you who is struggling with suicidal thoughts is a scary but real thing. Many people around us might be struggling, and we have no idea. Know that you are not alone.
There are others who are struggling and would love to help you through this. We can all do our part to stop suicide. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers free, 24/7, confidential assistance to those who are in need, as well as information for you or a loved one in times of crisis and best practices for professionals in the United States.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or any other mental health crisis, Acera Health is prepared to help you. Our evidence-based practices can help you or a loved one find the healing you need. Call us to learn more about our program at (949) 647-4090.