Coping with Suicidal Thoughts: How Your Health Impacts Your Risk Factors
by Jennifer Scott
Suicide continues to be a serious problem in the United States, as well as around the world, and people of every type of group can be impacted. There are some specific risk factors that are shown to elevate the likelihood that one might experience suicidal thoughts, but those in trouble should realize that there are resources that can provide immediate assistance. In addition, there are lifestyle changes that can help turn things around for the long term.
Let people help if suicidal thoughts build
If you begin to feel as if suicide is the only way to resolve what is wrong in your life, it is imperative that you reach out for help. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Mental Health page details that people can call 911 if they are in crisis, or they can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). That organization also has a Lifeline Crisis Chat program available and help can also be accessed via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727).
If you are the loved one of someone who seems to be considering suicide, those same helplines can be beneficial. However, in an emergent situation, it is likely best to stay with the person in crisis and call 911. Helpguide points out that it is critical to take warning signs seriously. Be proactive, guide them to help, and stick with them as they work through this crisis.
Chronic physical and mental health issues raise the risk for suicide
While no specific group of people is fully exempt from facing suicidal thoughts, research has shown that there are some factors that lead to an increased risk of issues. SAMHSA indicates that those who deal with mental health or substance abuse issues carry a higher risk than many other groups, and those who have been hurt by someone else's suicide may be at an elevated risk as well.
Everyday Health notes that chronic health problems like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, back pain, or chronic migraines can raise the risks of suicide. Poor sleep is another potential factor, and those who deal with mental health challenges like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and eating disorders tend to fall into a higher-risk pool too.
One's suicide risk is often higher if they have a history of intentionally harming themselves. Previous suicide attempts are a serious factor for a future attempt and the Population Reference Bureau adds that people in certain groups like being in the military, being recently divorced or widowed, or being gay, lesbian, or transgender can raise the risk of suicide too.
Embracing a healthier lifestyle can be instrumental in avoiding suicidal thoughts
Of course, risk factors are only one piece of the puzzle. People who are struggling can take steps to turn things around and build a healthier life. Working with a doctor or therapist can help one work through areas of distress and some people find medications to be quite beneficial. The World Health Organization details that access to health care is essential for reducing suicidal behavior, as is reduced access to commonly-used means like pesticides that are often used in poisoning suicides, firearms, and medications commonly used in suicides.
When one's overall health is improved, their risk of considering suicide generally goes down. HPRC notes that regular physical activity is essential to improving one's mental health, including reducing the risk for suicide. Other key factors to work on improving is to eat a healthy diet, get quality sleep, and build up regular, healthy social interactions with others. Avoiding addiction makes a significant difference too, and every step one can take to build their overall health is another step toward avoiding suicide.
Families of all types have been impacted by suicide, and those who struggle with chronic health issues or mental health challenges can be especially susceptible to experiencing suicidal thoughts. When things start to feel impossible to handle in life, there are people available by phone, text, or online to help, and committing to healthy lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the long term. Coping with suicidal thoughts can be extremely distressing, but there is hope for change and a better life and there are resources available to help.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.org.