Let's be honest, talking about suicide isn't always an easy conversation for some people to have. Often times, people can become visibly uncomfortable just at the mention of the word "suicide." There are lots of people who don't feel comfortable telling others that they feel distressed or are experiencing a crisis.
Breaking the stigma
When we don't discuss topics like suicide and emotional crisis, people might not reach out for help when they need it the most. For persons who have had suicidal thoughts, they might feel shame or stigma. For people who are experiencing emotional crises, they might feel like they are alone.
It's time we start shifting our conversations and saying, "It's okay to talk about suicide" and to say, "I need help." It's not just okay to talk to about suicide and say you need help, it's also okay to reach out and get help. Research has shown that talking about suicide and emotional crisis can actually help save lives.
When we talk about suicide or experiencing emotional distress, we make these conversations less taboo. Talking about it is a way to empower yourself and others to feel comfortable getting help.
What you should know
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States (US) among persons 15-24 years old. As a community, we can all do something to help lower this statistic. One of the simple things we can do is to know the factors that can increase risk for suicide and the protective factors that lower risk.
Risk factors can include:
Ongoing physical health issues, such as chronic pain
Access to lethal means, such as drugs or firearms
Childhood abuse or trauma
Protective factors can include:
Community and family support
Healthy problem-solving and coping skills
Access to timely mental health care and services
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress. "988" is the three-digit, nationwide phone number to connect persons directly to trained crisis counselors.
These trained counselors will listen, understand how the caller's problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources as necessary.
You can call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org/chat to receive support from one of their trained counselors.
When people call, text, or chat 988, they can receive support for mental health related distress. That could be:
Thoughts of suicide
Mental health or substance use crisis, or
Any other kind of emotional distress.
If you have more questions about 988, please visit their website.
When should you call 988?
If Retriever Integrated Health (RIH) is closed or you just need to talk to a trained mental health counselor for a suicide, mental health, or substance use crisis, call, text, or chat 988.
Retriever Integrated Health
For more help regarding suicide or emotional distress, visit Retriever Integrated Health at health.umbc.edu for information on:
Individual and group counseling support
Online tools to support your well-being journey
Office of Health Promotion
The Office of Health Promotion (OHP) offers events and trainings related to suicide prevention and helping our community members get help. Visit the OHP myUMBC page for up-to-date offerings. Contact OHP at firstname.lastname@example.org to invite Health Promotion staff to your office or group meeting.
Follow us on Instagram @UMBCOHP and Twitter @UMBCOHP to learn more!