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Suicide is often an untouchable subject, shrouded in taboo, and makes people uncomfortable. But that is precisely why it needs to be discussed. This year, the National Suicide Prevention Week is September 6th-12th, and Brain Forest Centers is taking this opportunity to discuss some real health concerns and challenges people face when contemplating suicide, healing from an attempt, or living with regret and remorse for a loved one.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Middle-aged white men are the most vulnerable, and men across the board are 3.56 times more likely to commit suicide than women. In 2018 alone, there were 14.2 suicides per 100,000 individuals in the U.S., and firearms accounted for more than 50% of the deaths. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel they have the support system in place to open up about their struggles with depression and anxiety, which is often the leading reason for suicide. That’s why we’re educating the public on this serious health concern. If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, know you’re not alone. We hope these resources will help you, but if you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Warning Signs

As an organization, Brain Forest prides itself on helping individuals overcome their mental roadblocks and hurdles. Through neurofeedback therapy, we’ve been able to help people suffering from depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. However, we recognize that we can’t treat everyone, and not everyone wants to be treated, so families and friends need to pay attention to some of the warning signs of suicide.

Paying attention to your loved one’s behavior should be part of your observations, but so should paying attention to their words. Some of the initial risk factors and warning signs include:

  • Family history
  • Job or financial loss
  • Previous attempts
  • Exposure to those who have died from suicide
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of relationships
  • Mental disorders

If you start to notice these changes in your loved one, it’s okay to ask them how they’re doing and if they need help. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma around the concept of asking for help, so it may be unlikely that your loved one will reach out to you first.

Ways to Help

According to the AFSP, suicide prevention research has been underfunded by the government for years. Yet, there is plenty we can learn from studying people, their behaviors, and the impact of preventative measures that are in place. Thanks to various organizations around the country, we have a better idea of how best to help someone contemplating harming themselves.

One of the best things you can do for a loved one is to speak up if you’re worried. Many of these conversations can feel uncomfortable and make you afraid, but it’s essential to know that anyone who talks about suicide or shows warning signs requires help. Many fear that they will push their loved ones into hurting themselves just by asking, but generally, the opposite is true. Giving your loved one an accepting and safe place to open up about their feelings can relieve loneliness and negative emotions.

Offering empathy and love is one of the best actions you can take. Yet, if there are severe warning signs of suicide, it’s time to take another course of action. Evaluate their seriousness, if they have immediate access to weapons or pills, or have been outspoken about a plan. If you or someone you know is currently in this situation, seek treatment immediately!

Suicide & a Global Pandemic

Life without a global pandemic is hard enough, but now the world looks and feels differently. People are stuck at home with limited social interaction, and many are without work in the United States. In June, QJM: An International Journal of Medicine released an article suggesting that the psychological and social effects of COVID-19 “will probably persist for months and years to come.”

This pandemic has been associated with an increase in various mental health concerns, including distress, anxiety, fear of contagion, depression, and insomnia. In more vulnerable or predisposed communities, these impacts have increased tenfold. Additionally, COVID-19 survivors might also experience elevated suicide risks. Still, actual effects and numbers will not be determined until well after the pandemic has subsided.

The Help You Need

Suicide is a serious health concern that should not be taken lightly. At Brain Forest, we focus on retraining the brain and providing positive reinforcement through neurofeedback therapy. Not only have we treated those with ADHD, anxiety, and other mental health blocks, but we’ve also helped those living with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. If you’re looking to improve your mental health and retrain the pathways in your brain, then contact us today!