Health & Safety

December 14, 2012

Risk factors, warning signs predictors of suicide

Before intervention. Before support. Even before treatment … there is prevention.

Tragically, 36,000 lives are lost to suicide each year in the U.S. Tens of thousands more attempt suicide. Every day families, friends, coworkers and neighbors lose someone they care about. Intervention, support and treatment can help, but to get to the heart of suicide, start with prevention.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a nation-wide toll-free crisis support and prevention resource. The Lifeline points out that life experience includes two types of factors: risk and protective. These are both sides of the constant struggle to “keep it together.” Knowing what they are, and what to pay attention to, can help you or a loved one.

Risk factors

The Lifeline has identified suicide risk factors. These aren’t predictors; they can only be looked at as factors that increase the chance of attempting or thinking about suicide. They include trauma, physical illness, substance abuse, and relationship or career problems.

Protective factors

Protective factors, on the other hand, are characteristics that can decrease the possibility that someone may attempt or think about suicide and include:

• ongoing medical and behavioral health support

• no access to highly lethal means of suicide

• strong connections to family

• community support

• cultural or religious beliefs discouraging suicide

Learn more about how both types of factors can affect anyone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Warning signs

While risk factors can be important, behaviors can point toward issues. Trust your feelings and your reactions. You probably know more than you think you know. Everyone is different, but common warning signs include:

• talking about wanting to die or feelings of hopelessness

• talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

• increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

• withdrawal or isolation

If you are concerned about someone, there are places to go for help and support.

• Military Crisis Line is available (800) 273-TALK, (8255) option 1

• Self-help information and links to resources at TriWest.com/BH

• TriWest crisis line (866) 284-3743 for West Region TRICARE beneficiaries.

 




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