September is Suicide Prevention Month

by Julia Rhea, Southwest Mental Health Counselor

Every 15 minutes a person in the United States dies by suicide.  September is Suicide Prevention Month to bring awareness to this tragic event that also is the leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds.  Half of college students report experiencing suicidal ideation, also known as suicidal thinking, at some point in their life.

Depression can look different for everyone, but there are common symptoms that are used when diagnosing a person with depression. These symptoms include

  • Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless;
  • Lacking interest in things one used to enjoy,
  • Withdrawing from friends or family,
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain,
  • Sleeping significantly more or less than usual,
  • Lacking energy,
  • Feeling worthless, and
  • Difficulty concentrating.

Other signs to watch out for include making preparations, such as giving away important possessions or writing letters to loved ones, increased alcohol or drug use, looking for ways to kill themselves like buying a gun or hoarding medication, talking about feeling trapped or not having a reason to live, and talking about wanting to die.

If you suspect that a friend is at risk for suicide:

  • Talk to them about it. There is a common fear that talking about suicide will lead a person to commit suicide, but there is no evidence to support that. They may be relieved to have someone to talk to.
  • Listen. Don’t try to “fix” anything, just let them talk about what is going on.
  • Offer hope. Help them find resources for help when they’re ready.
  • Take the person seriously. Don’t try to laugh it off or turn it into a joke just because it’s uncomfortable.
  • Don’t argue with the person or get upset with them. They’re sharing very vulnerable information with you.
  • Don’t promise confidentiality. If their life is at stake, you may need to seek help without their permission.

There is help 24 hours a day.  Call the Suicide Hotline at (901) 274-7477 or send a text to 741741.  Suicide prevention resources are available at the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network website where you will learn about available training and much more.  

Counseling is available for students by appointment at the Macon campus Tuesdays and Fridays and the Union campus Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Other centers are by appointment only. Call (901) 333-5121 or email jrhea@southwest.tn.edu.
Faculty and staff resources are available through Partners for Health’s website Here4TN or call anytime, day or night, 855-Here4TN (855- 437-3486).