Spring is Springing–But Why Then do Some People Want to Die?

Since I am  on call every few weeks for risk assessments at our local ER, there seemed to be a dramatic increase in the average number of people in my county who became suicidal including a few overdoses late this winter when we had really mild weather intermixed with snow days into this early spring.  It made me wonder whether the erratic temperatures and for us more “gloomy” days than usual have been at least a partial cause of this phenomenon.

My sister-in-law also shared with me that my adopted state (I was born, raised and educated in Chicago, Illinois), has the highest per capita rate of suicide.  I didn’t know that statistic before but was aware we have the highest rate of underage drinking.  Maybe the two are linked in general, but it does not explain the increase in spring-time of people wanting to die.  Some people have posited that spring time in general has higher suicide or suicidal thought rates because people who are depressed don’t like the rebirth that comes with it.  I am not sure, only that I wish people would reach out for help before they get to a point where they even contemplate ending their precious lives.

What can a healthcare professional do to help someone who is thinking about suicide?

1.  Listening is paramount.  Some people, especially I have found male people can hide their feelings pretty well. The completed suicides I know of in my county were all men, and they all used lethal means such as shooting themselves with a gun.  None of the men that have died the 10 years I have been here were active client’s at the mental health center where I work so they may not have talked to anyone about their intent at least not mental health professionals.

2.  If someone says they are having suicidal thoughts, with no present plan, say they are not going to actually hurt themselves and are open to help they can be referred to a local mental health center and  can be given the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1-800-273-TALK.

3.  If friends, family or your patients/clients share they are having suicidal thoughts especially if they have an actual plan to harm themselves and a means to do so, it is paramount they get help immediately.  Either someone close to the person or law enforcement can transport the person to the local ER where a mental health professional should be on call to do a risk assessment and determine whether the person needs to be held over or given a strict safety plan to follow as well as a referral for help.

4.  Remember many professionals, not just nurses, doctors or therapists are mandated reporters, so it is paramount that if people open up about this very serious mental health issue, that they get the proper help, quickly.

5.  If you have thought about hurting/killing yourself, please get past the stigma that I know many people have, maybe more so health care professionals. (After all, we are supposed to take care of everyone else but have no needs ourselves right?)  Your life is just as valuable as everyone else’s and if you are no longer alive, how many people in your life will suffer?

Healthcare professionals, this is the time of year when more people may want to take their own lives, maybe even including some of us, so please take care of yourselves emotionally, encourage others to get help if needed and/or reach out yourself should you need it!

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