Sept. 10 marks World Suicide Prevention Day – an observance of the alarmingly high global suicide rate and the need for compassionate support. The correlation between substance abuse and suicidal tendencies is undeniable, especially for women. Here’s what you need to know to end the stigma in your community.
Recognizing Suicidal Thoughts
Since not everyone who contemplates suicide vocalizes their intentions, recognizing the nuanced hints is essential. Examples of suicidal thoughts include:
- “I can’t see any way out.”
- “I wish I could disappear.”
- “I just want the pain to end.”
- “Everyone would be better off without me.”
- “I feel stuck in my life.”
- “There’s no point in going on.”
Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation often manifests as a combination of verbal cues, behaviors and mood swings. Recognizing these can sometimes be the difference between life and death. In addition to verbal cues, other behaviors and signs might indicate someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
- Significant mood changes: One of the most noticeable signs is a sudden shift in mood or demeanor. It could signify inner turmoil if someone who is usually outgoing and cheerful suddenly becomes reclusive.
- Giving away cherished possessions: When people start donating or handing out treasured belongings, it may indicate they are putting affairs in order, not intending to need these things in the future.
- Unusual preoccupation with death or dying: An increased interest in topics concerning death, such as watching documentaries, reading about it or casually bringing it up in conversations, can be a sign of a crisis.
- Exhibiting feelings of hopelessness or being trapped: If you constantly feel you can’t improve your situation or solve your problems, it can weigh heavily on you.
- Neglecting personal appearance and hygiene: A sudden lack of concern about self-care can be a manifestation of deeper psychological distress and a diminishing value placed on yourself.
- Engaging in risky behaviors: Activities like excessive speeding, using drugs or intentionally putting yourself in dangerous situations can signify you don’t value your life.
- Sudden calmness, especially following a period of depression: Paradoxically, suicidal people might exhibit an abrupt sense of calm or relief if they believe they’ve found a way to end their pain.
The Suicide Crisis Among American Women
While suicide rates are higher among men, the gender gap is narrowing – particularly among women in late middle age. Contributing factors may include societal pressures, familial responsibilities, financial strain and untreated mental health disorders.
Substance abuse also significantly magnifies suicide risks. Alcohol and drugs can lead to impaired judgment, lower inhibitions and exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and despair. Many women use addictive substances to self-medicate underlying mental health issues, creating a vicious cycle that can lead to increased suicidal ideation.
Drugs and alcohol provide a short-lived, maladaptive escape from trauma, abuse, economic hardships or systemic injustices. As dependency grows, so does the isolation, making it even harder for to get help.
Paving the Way to Resilience and Recovery
World Suicide Prevention Day serves as a reminder that suicide is preventable. You can make a significant impact by being vigilant about the warning signs. Canyon Crossing offers steadfast support to women battling substance abuse and mental health challenges. Contact us today to discover your inner grace and resilience.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 immediately.