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. “Maine is ranked 15th in the nation for its suicide rate; it is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and 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 daily, let them know 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, try active listening techniques such as reflecting on their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This approach 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.
Celebrating nearly 60 years, AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting up to 5,500 clients annually. The agency has 26 service sites and 350 employees across Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties, providing mental health, substance use, crisis, sexual assault services, and traumatic brain injury (Aroostook). For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.