The Check-In Project team sat down with Anna Gai, Director of the Statewide Office for Suicide Prevention with the Florida Department of Children and Families, to discuss coping with stress during the holidays and the warning signs of suicide.
Maintaining a routine and structure can go a long way in helping combat mental health difficulties. This routine includes:
Other things you can do to combat seasonal stress are:
Typically, there is a slight decrease in suicide experiences in December. This may be an effect of the holiday season, but it is important to recognize that for a lot of people, the holiday season is extremely stressful in many different ways. Especially now, with COVID-19, limited travel abilities, and need for physical distancing are likely to add additional strain and experiences such as loneliness. It’s more important than ever to learn some of the warning signs of suicide and suicide-related thoughts to help each other and our loved ones stay safe this holiday season.
A common myth surrounding suicide is that individuals who talk about suicide are doing so for attention. In reality, many individuals who die or attempt suicide have given some clue or warning. Here are some of the themes individuals who may be experiencing suicidal ideation may express:
Another way individuals may show signs of suicide-related thoughts and behaviors is through changes in their behaviors such as:
It’s important to take note of changes in behaviors. If someone is typically hard to get in touch with, that may not be a sign of social withdrawal. Rather, really look for differences in a person’s behavior.
Someone experiencing depression may:
Knowing some of the warning signs of suicide, here are some ideas of what to do if you see some of these signs. The first step is to have a conversation.
Talking about suicide will not give someone the idea and is actually one of the most helpful things you can do.
If someone says they have been wanting to die or have thoughts of suicide, what do you do?
It’s important to know that help and resources are available:
Of course, if you believe you or your loved one is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline is also available 24/7 in times when you just need someone to talk to.
By having these sometimes difficult conversations and reaching out to loved ones who are struggling, we are all helping to break the stigma surrounding mental health in our community. Take the pledge to check-in at TheCheckInProject.org.