The numbers are staggering and tragic, in 2017 447 Mississippians died of suicide. In America annually there are over 1 million attempts of which 38,000 are regretfully successful. We can make a difference in this sad story by becoming more aware of the magnitude of the problem of suicide and doing what is possible to promote better mental health. Each human life made in the mage of God is of unspeakable value. Jesus said, “By this the world will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. It is loving to arm ourselves with the ‘facts’ about suicide and ‘prepare to do something’ to make a positive difference in this horrific condition of others.
1. Suicide touches everyone….all ages and incomes, races, ethnic, and religious groups.
2. Family history of suicide or attempts
3. Factors increasing risks: prior suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, mood and anxiety disorders e.g. depression, PTSD, access to a means to kill oneself.
4. Triggering events causing shame and despair includes: relationship breakups, work problems, financial hardships, legal difficulties, worsening health.
5. Loss of relational connectedness ‘Protective Factors’: Sudden loss or lack of support system that may including family, friends, church, community involvement, work colleagues, and even pets.
6. Behaviors that may indicate a person is at risk: Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself, looking for a means to kill oneself, talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, talking about feeling trapped in unbearable pain or being a burden to others, increased alcohol or drug use, acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing or feeling isolated, using rage or seeking revenge, displaying extreme mood swings.
SUICIDE INQUIRY: Specific questioning about thoughts, plans, behaviors, intent.
1. Ideation (thoughts): frequency, intensity, duration in last 48 hours, past month, and worst ever?
2. Plan: timing, location, lethality, availability, preparatory acts.
3. Behaviors: past attempts, aborted attempts, rehearsals (tying noose, loading gun) vs. non-suicidal injurious actions.
4. Intent: extend to which a person (1) expects to carry out the plan and (2) believes the plan/act to be lethal vs. self-injurious. Explore ambivalence: reasons to die vs. reasons to live.
*For Youth: ask parent/guardian about evidence of suicidal thoughts, plans or behaviors, and changes in mood, behaviors, or disposition.
Suicide Assessment Evaluation:
1. Identify Risk Factors.
2. Identify Protective Factors.
3. Conduct Suicide Inquiry.
4. Determine Risk Level / Intervention.
1. Psychiatric diagnosis with severe symptoms or acute precipitating event; no protective factors in place.
2. Potentially lethal suicide attempt or persistent ideation with strong intent or suicide rehearsal.
3. Possible Intervention: Admission to hospital; call “Mobile Crisis Response Team”; call 911.
1. Multiple risk factors and few “Protective Factors” listed above.
2. Suicide ideation with plan, but no intent or behavior.
3. Possible Intervention: Develop crisis plan for individual; give emergency numbers; increase protective support system.
1. Modifiable risk factors, few protective factors.
2. Thoughts of death with no plan, intent, or behavior.
3. Possible Intervention: Refer to counselor, help reduce symptoms, give emergency numbers.
Crossroads Counseling Center: 601-939-6634, www.crossroadscounselingms.com.
Department of Mental Health, State of Mississippi. https://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/FaithCommunityLeaders.pdf
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). www.sprc.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
MOBILE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS, Ms. Dept. of Mental Health
Region 8: Copiah, Lincoln, Madison, Rankin, Simpson (601) 825-8800
Region 9: Hinds (601) 321-2400
Region 12: Covington, Forrest, Greene, J. Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Perry, Wayne 601-544-4641