Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual reminder that suicide is not inevitable and there are things we can do to help prevent more deaths.

Truly effective mental health care, better access to treatment, lower costs and reduced stigma could all go a long way toward reducing suicides. Suicide numbers in the US are not heading in the right direction, though.

The US is having a mental health crisis

The reasons why suicide rates are climbing may be as complex as the solutions. Some experts believe that the trend might be partly linked to the economic recession.

But there are a few warning signs to keep an eye out for if you’re worried that someone close to you may be suicidal. These include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Looking for ways to complete suicide, like getting access to pills or a gun
  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide out loud or on social media
  • Rage and revenge-seeking
  • Being reckless or doing uncharacteristically risky things
  • Feeling trapped and withdrawing from social activities
  • Anxiety or trouble sleeping
  • Dramatic shifts in mood

Only a medical professional (A health professional in branches of health care like, medicine, pharmacy, psychology) can diagnose someone as suicidal, but asking the question “are you thinking about killing yourself?” and providing a safe space for someone to talk about his or her feelings without judgment or shame can be extremely helpful.

Tell the person that you care, and let them do most of the talking about how they’re feeling. Remember those thoughts of suicide are common and often associated with a treatable mental disorder.

If you should need to talk to someone, here’s a list where you may be able to find a crisis hotline in your country.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13. (See also Psalm 23.)

Dr. Thomas Agrait