1,000,000: The number of suicide attempts in a year

In honor of Suicide Prevention Week 2015: Remember the old Reading Rainbow children’s book How Much is a Million? “If one million children climbed onto one another’s shoulders, they would be higher than airplanes fly.” That’s how many people attempted suicide in the United States in 2013 - the most recent year for which data are available. In its Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated that 1 million people in the US attempted suicide that year.

My sister attempted suicide when I was a child. I don’t remember very much about it, but I remember my mother picking me up early from my school dance to take my sister to the emergency room to have her stomach pumped. And, I remember being scared for her, my beloved. She survived and went to counseling, and grew up to marry and have children, thank goodness.

If you have thoughts or feelings about self-harm, you might feel like you have nowhere to turn. Here are some things to know:

You don’t have to act on the feelings. You can choose how to respond or not to respond at all.

Feelings and thoughts about hurting yourself mean you need to take a deep breath, remain calm, and take self-care action. It’s important to know you will not feel this way forever. You haven’t always felt this way; you felt another way before. First, find someone you can talk to - a friend, family member, coworker, therapist, or hotline. Some things to say include that you are feeling like you want to hurt yourself, if you know why you feel that way (and it’s normal if you don’t know why), if you can tell them what you need, if you don’t know what you need. If you’d rather not talk to someone you know, you can call the hotline or chat online.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Online chat at the Suicide Crisis Chat

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has teamed up with suicide attempt survivors, therapists, crisis centers, families, and others to offer real help that works. Suicide attempt survivors have posted 100 ways to get through the next 5 minutes. Survivors also share longer activities, tried and true self-care tips, when they needs care.

If you have experienced thoughts of harming yourself in the past, or think you might in the future, it’s important to have a safety plan. Safety plans include strategies like prevention strategies, how to recognize warning signs, people you can reach out to, ways to get through immediate thoughts and feelings of self-harm, and how to stay safe in the future.

Recovering from a suicide attempt

If you survived a suicide attempt, you are survivor. Other survivors have shared their stories online, how they made it through their darkest hour, and may inspire you. Sometimes sharing your pain, and helping others, via blogging about it can be therapeutically healing. You can read others’ blog posts and add your own at You Matter.

You do matter

You are important and perfect just as you are. Let me say that again, in case you didn't hear: you are important and perfect just as you are. If you experience any of these warning signs, please reach out. If you don't experience any of these, but you feel worried you might, reach out too; it might just make you feel better.

  • If you have tried to hurt or kill yourself, you are more likely to try again
  • Having a friend or family member who attempted suicide
  • Untreated depression (the number one cause for suicide)
  • Unexplained extreme mood changes
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or unable to picture a future with you in it
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Feeling like others would be better off without you
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Withdrawing or isolating from others

And as always, I'm here. You can reach me in Seattle at Balance Insight, 206-790-7270.

Thanks for reading, and be well. ~ Robin

Resources and References Used

David Schwartz, “How Much Is a Million?” Harper Collins Publishers, 1985.

“You Matter,” http://www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

John Draper, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you, or someone you know, is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or chat http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx

A special thank you to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for their invaluable resources, for their good work, and their awareness and prevention programs.