September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County would like to provide suicide warning signs, and resources to help those in need of Mental Health assistance. The goal is to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.

NAMI reports suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that effect people when they are most vulnerable. Suicidal thoughts and suicide occur too frequently but should not be considered common and can indicate more serious issues. In many cases the individuals, friends, and families affected by suicide are left in the dark, feeling shame or stigma that prevents talking openly about issues dealing with suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, 2016 and these three words are at the heart of suicide prevention and officially the theme for 2016, ‘Connect, Communicate, and Care’.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention states fostering connections with those who have lost a loved one to suicide or have been suicidal themselves is crucial to furthering suicide prevention efforts. Social connectedness reduced the risk of suicide, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be a life-saving act. Connecting them with formal and informal supports may also help to prevent suicide. Open communication is vital if we are to combat suicide. We need to discuss suicide as we would any other public health issue if we are to dispel myths about it and reduce the stigma surrounding it. All the connecting and communicating in the world will have no effect without the final ingredient – care.

The American Association of Suicidology provides a list of suicide warning signs, and easy to remember mnemonic: IS PATH WARM?

I – Ideation (Talking or threatening to hurt or kill self or seeking access to firearms, available pills)

S- Substance Abuse (Increased substance use including alcohol or drugs)

P- Purposelessness (No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life)

A – Anxiety (Agitation, Anxiety, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time)

T – Trapped (Feeling trapped, like there is no way out)

H – Hopelessness (Believing it will never get better)

W- Withdrawal (Withdrawing from friends, family, and society)

A – Anger (Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge)

R – Recklessness (Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking)

M – Mood Changes (Dramatic mood changes)

If these signs are observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Capital Health Systems Crisis Hotline 609-396-HELP (4357) or 609-989-7297. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, JFCS is here to help. Please contact us to schedule a counseling appointment if your symptoms are difficult to manage and interfering with your life. You can call us at 609-987-8100.