Health

Do You Know the Warning Signs of Suicide?

In San Diego, more than one person dies by suicide every day. One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world and in the U.S., one suicide occurs every 14.2 minutes.

 

Given these startling statistics, County mental health experts are reminding the public that suicides can be prevented. September 9th through September 15th is National Suicide Prevention Week, a perfect time to raise awareness about this very important public health issue and to learn what you can do to prevent suicide.

“Knowing how to recognize the warning signs and where to get help can make the difference between life and death,” said Alfredo Aguirre, Director of the County’s Behavioral Health Services. “Most people who attempt or die by suicide showed one or more warning signs prior to the suicide attempt.”

People think about ending the pain that accompanies feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness.  These individuals may have recently experienced the loss of a job or loved one, ended a relationship, or lost their home.

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking of hurting or killing oneself
  • Divorce, separation, stress on family
  • Loss of health
  • Loss of job, home, personal security
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Daring or risk-taking behavior

Last year, 392 suicides were reported in our region. Mental health experts believe that for every suicide, six other people who were close to the victim suffer lasting emotional trauma.

“Suicide is preventable. There is hope. There is help,” Aguirre added.  “It’s important to know the warning signs and how to assist a suicidal person.”

So what should you do when a person asks for help? If the person is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

You should also:

  • Take it seriously
  • Listen; suicidal behavior is a call for help
  • Give and get help right away
  • Don’t leave the person alone
  • Urge professional help

Suicide prevention training is available at no cost. This training is equivalent to a CPR course but for preventing suicide.

For more information about suicide, risk factors, warning signs, how to get help, resources and training that is available, visit It’s Up to Us. Help is also available at the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. Suicide prevention is an key component of Live Well, San Diego!, the County’s 10-year initiative for a healthy, safe and thriving San Diego community.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact