Talk openly about suicide

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, September 27, 2018

By Chris Quilpa

We live in a diverse world where connectivity has always been a possibility because of awareness. This awareness has led to inventions, creations and breakthroughs, like the internet, social media, Wi-Fi and so on.

Awareness, of anything that involves life and well-being, can inspire and motivate one to become an activist or an advocate, a humanitarian or a Good Samaritan. Out of it, there’s information dissemination. There’s spreading and sharing of useful, vital and valuable information locally, nationally and internationally.

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With awareness, there’s hope and optimism that we can save a life. We can change the world because of our commitment to spread and share a useful, powerful message or information that will transform one’s being to do good and become better.

At this time, I’d like to share with you useful information, from my reading and research, that focuses on suicide prevention and intervention.

September is designated as National Suicide Prevention Month to create and promote awareness, to strengthen the fight against suicide and to create change for a better life.

Suicide is a conscious and deliberate ending of one’s own life. Individuals who commit suicide often experience mental illness and personal issues for which suicide is seen as the best or, sometimes, the only solution.

It is the 10th-leading cause of death in America. About 126 veterans kill themselves each week. Veterans who are between 20 and 24 years old and those over 65 are in the most suicide-vulnerable categories. The Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force have the lowest suicide rates while the Marine Corps and Army have the highest. Since 2004, deployment stress has dramatically increased military suicide rates.

Significant disruptions to family life and relationships, possibly resulting from multiple and prolonged deployments, may have contributed to the increase of suicide among military members.

Recognizing signs and symptoms of a suicidal crisis and then taking actions to get help is a lifesaver.

Overt or obvious clues to look for include making a direct statement threatening suicide, making funeral arrangements, describing suicide plans, feeling as if life is meaningless, expressing frequent feelings of sadness and despair, obtaining means of suicide such as a weapon, increased substance abuse and increased risk-taking.

Other, less obvious signs a person may need help include loss of logical thinking, excessive spending, feelings of loneliness and rejection, withdrawal from friends and family, underperforming at work, giving away important possessions, describing “practice” suicides to friends, subtle changes in personality, bringing up the topic of death frequently, difficulties in making everyday decisions and disturbed sleep.

Some others to look for include rigid thinking, extreme reactions to minor frustrations, diminished problem-solving ability, inability to see alternatives, intensified anxiety and feeling out of place, sad, upset or confused.

You can help your friends and family by knowing the warning signs, talking openly about your concern, asking “Are you thinking of harming or killing yourself?” listening, encouraging the person to accept help, referring to and facilitating professional support, removing means of suicide and not leaving the person alone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800-273-8255.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at