September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) encourages everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts and what to do and not do in response to helping a loved one.
“According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person died by suicide every 32 hours in the State of Maine in 2020,” explains Sarah Wright, Director of Crisis Services. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for ages 35-54.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says the following warning signs could signal that someone is experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide):
- Comments like “I wish I weren’t here” or “Nothing matters”
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
NAMI offers this advice: If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they are going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they are talking. Instead of “arguing” or trying to disprove any negative statements they make (“Your life is not that bad!”), try active listening techniques such as reflecting on their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, AMHC is available to anyone in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. To access AMHC’s Mobile Crisis Services team, please call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.