In a year marked by isolation, sadness, and mental health struggles, this is one of the more inspirational stories that gives us hope that we can make a difference.
Suicides dropped and calls to a national suicide prevention hotline surged after musical artist Logic’s release of a song titled ‘1-800-273-8255’, which is the number of the suicide hotline.
During the song, a fictional conversation takes place between a suicidal individual and an operator of the National Suicide Prevention “Lifeline.” During the song, the operator counsels the person, ultimately changing their mind.
The song actually came out in 2017, but the resulting study on calls to the Lifeline and suicide rates, was published in the British Medical Journal last month. The study was co-authored by leaders of the Lifeline and scholars who study suicide and the media. The release of this song, along with the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2018 Grammy Awards, were linked to an increase in calls to the hotline and the resulting reduction in suicides.
Josh Dominguez, a 22-year-old Californian, claims to be part of the data revealed in the recent research study. A lifelong fan of Logic, the band behind the song, Dominguez had just broken up with his girlfriend and was struggling with high school graduation anxiety. The song, “1-800-273-8255” debuted in April 2017.
Breaking the stigma of suicidal ideation
To help those who may be contemplating suicide, the stigma surrounding suicide must be broken. It’s a taboo subject that fills many who are affected with shame and causes them to avoid discussing their feelings. Yet research has shown that boosting awareness may aid attempts to prevent suicide. Open and honest communication and knowledge of the facts may help save a life.
Since 2006, the number of US suicides has steadily grown. Annual suicide attempts among adults are projected at approximately 2.3 million, according to the CDC. Only one-fifth of the victims told someone close to them of their plans before they took their life.
Getting things out in the open
Suicide is an issue that has to be discussed openly in order to preserve a life. Researchers and mental health specialists have found that increasing awareness helps in the fight against the epidemic. The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) recommends that talking to someone who is contemplating suicide is the best way to stop them so they can obtain the treatment they need.
Awareness of the risk factors is an important part of preventative efforts. People who have already attempted suicide are the most likely to contemplate it again. Other important risk factors are:
- Mood disturbances
- The death of a loved one
- Experiencing a breakup
- Experiencing a chronic sickness
- Living through a traumatic experience
- Suffering abuse
- Having a substance use disorder (SUD)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 54 percent of those who died by suicide had no documented mental health disorders on file. Many of the people in this category may have been struggling with a mental health problem they kept to themselves.
Noticing the warning signs
The idea that suicide occurs abruptly and unexpectedly is a popular one. In truth, a person’s words or behaviours frequently give away their true intentions. When increasing awareness about suicide, it’s important to know the warning signals. These signs may come in the form of:
- An increase is drug or alcohol use
- Major mood swings
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Aggressive behaviour
- Reckless or impulsive actions
You need to act immediately or call 911 if you notice someone is suddenly doing the following:
- Saying farewell to close friends or loved ones
- Saving pills or purchasing a weapon
- Organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Giving away or donating possessions
Don’t take any talk of suicide lightly. If you have contemplated suicide, call 1-800-273-8255. If someone mentions that they have thought about suicide, take it seriously. Get help for your loved one and find out what you can do to prevent them from going ahead with the activity.
Scott H. Silverman has been helping men and women recover from mental health disorders for almost 40 years. He is the CEO of Confidential Recovery, an outpatient treatment program in San Diego that specialises in sustainable recovery from addiction.