A call to 988 can save a life.
That is the number to call to reach the Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline.
It is harrowing and heartbreaking to hear all the stories and statistics about the increasing number of people who take their own lives, including right here in central Minnesota – teenagers among them.
In 2020, it was verified 45,979 Americans died by suicide and 1.2 million attempted suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. An alarming number of military veterans are taking their lives, an average of 22 each day or about 8,000 a year. In a grim irony, that is more than those who died in war combat during the past two decades.
In the general population, about 130 people take their own lives each day and many more attempt to do so. That equates to 13.5 suicides per 100,000 people. Between 2000 and 2020, a total of more than 800,000 died by suicide in this country.
We can all help prevent suicides. The first step is for everyone to become aware of the “warning signs” of someone thinking of that drastic, terminal, sad “solution.”
Here are some signs as noted by mental-health experts: someone experiencing feelings of guilt or shame, of being a burden to others, of feeling disconnected or worthless.
Quite often, before taking their own lives, people will withdraw from friends or family, start giving away important items, exhibit dangerous behavior (such as driving fast), display extreme mood swings, neglect hygiene, have disruptive sleep patterns or become anxious and agitated.
Loved ones, friends, acquaintances should listen carefully to them non-judgmentally, with empathy and compassion. They should offer to help them through their struggles.
The helpline call (988) is available 24/7 for people of all ages who have suicidal thoughts, those living with depression, behavioral problems and for those concerned about a loved one contemplating suicide.
A call or text to 988 will give immediate access to trained counselors who provide immediate, confidential assistance who can also put callers in touch with further help resources.
Share the above information with those you know. Emphasize the vital importance of that number – 988. It could well be as important as that other number (911) as the first step in saving someone’s life.
For more information about suicide prevention, visit the National Institute for Mental Health site at www.nimh.nih.gov/suicide.