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Your Story Is Not Over- Suicide Prevention

The Miss America and Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization lost a sweet soul this past week and it has been weighing heavy on my mind. As a teen suicide attempt survivor, I understand the pain she must have been in. It has taken more of a toll on me than I would have thought since we were many states away, but MAO is a sisterhood like no other. I decided it would be appropriate to share warning signs of suicide so you can keep an eye out for them in your loved ones.

Risk Factors- These are characteristics or conditions that could put someone at a higher risk of suicide.

Health Risk Factors

  • Mental Health Conditions

- Depression

- Anxiety Disorders

- Substance Use Disorder

- Conduct Disorders

- Schizophrenia

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Serious Medical Condition

Historical Risk Factors

  • Childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • Family history of suicide

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide

  • Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems, or unemployment

  • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs

  • Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions, or loss

Suicide Warning Signs- Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Talk Warning Signs

If a person talks about

  • Killing themselves

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Having no reason to live

  • Being a burden to others

  • Feeling trapped

  • Unbearable pain

Mood Warning Signs

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of interest

  • Irritability

  • Humiliation/Shame

  • Agitation/Anger

  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

Behavior Warning Signs

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss, or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

  • Withdrawing from activities

  • Isolating from family and friends

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Aggression

  • Fatigue

I hope that this information was valuable and helps you feel more prepared to identify suicide warning signs in someone that is struggling. If you do believe a loved one is thinking about suicide, ask them. There is a common misconception that asking someone if they are suicidal, that is putting the idea in their head. This is completely untrue and if someone is thinking about suicide, you could be saving their life by starting that difficult conversation. If someone has confided in you that they are thinking about suicide, immediately get them help. Even if they ask you not to tell anyone. It is better to have someone be mad at you for a little while than for them to no longer be here. If you want to learn more about suicide prevention check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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