As the 10th-leading cause of death in Arizona – and the second-leading cause of death among those age 10 through 34 – suicide is a major public health concern in our state. But knowing what to do when someone you know is at risk for self harm may make the difference in preventing a suicide.
Governor Doug Ducey has proclaimed September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Arizona. Arizona ranks 20th in the U.S. in deaths by suicide, with about 1,300 such deaths in 2020.
Here are five steps you can take to help someone in emotional pain:
- Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
- Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
- Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests that acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce suicidal thoughts.
- Help them connect: Save the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number (call or text 988) and the Crisis Text Line number (741741) in your phone so they’re available if you need them. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual adviser, or mental health professional.
- Stay connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
If you see the warning signs of someone considering self harm, acting quickly can save a life.