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Be a lifeline for someone considering suicide

September 18, 2023

Suicide is a major public health concern. According to the CDC, around 49,500 people died by suicide in the United States in 2022, an estimated 3% increase compared to 2021. It is the 11th leading cause of death overall. It was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-14 and 25-34 , the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness too.

All month, mental health advocates, healthcare and prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness.

If someone you know is struggling emotionally or having a hard time in life, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need. When it comes to the subject of suicide, warning signs can help you determine if a loved one is at risk for taking their own life, especially if the behavior is new, has increased or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs or symptoms, seek professional help right away:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves. This can include looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances.
  • Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly, or withdrawing or isolating themselves. 
  • Exhibiting extreme mood swings, such as showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

If a friend, co-worker, family member or someone else you know talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe the person might attempt suicide, don't try to handle the situation alone. The Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) Crisis Line (607-762-2302) is a community hotline number to call for anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, or just need to talk, or if a family member has questions regarding what to do.

Get help from a trained professional who can assess the situation, identify potential needs and healthy outcomes that alter suicidal thoughts/behaviors. Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number.

In the United States, anyone needing help can call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.

U.S. veterans or service members who are in crisis can call 988 and then press "1" for the Veterans Crisis Line. Or text 838255. Or chat online.

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454 (toll-free).

Leaders, medical staff and employees across UHS are working to raise public awareness about the issue of suicide and the steps that can be taken to prevent it.

A community-wide event was held on Wednesday, Sept. 13 called “Chalk the Walk . . . Have the Talk” at UHS Binghamton General Hospital.  UHS staff and people from the community stopped by throughout the day to draw positive images and write notes that speak to suicide awareness and prevention.

“Our goal was to engage staff, passersby and all interested people in artistically expressing positive and hopeful messages,” Anastasia Spiratos, behavioral health specialist at UHS Hospitals said.  Representatives of the UHS Behavioral Health team were on hand to encourage artistic expression and welcome discussions with anyone who felt like talking.

Additionally, the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and Broome County Suicide Awareness for Everyone (BC SAFE) are spearheading upcoming events that aim to encourage area residents to have deeper conversations and support each other.

UHS will participate in the “Out of the Darkness Walk” on Sunday, Oct. 1.  The walk, focusing on suicide prevention, will happen at Otsiningo Park in Binghamton.  And on Saturday, Nov. 18, UHS will hold the sixth annual Suicide Survivors’ Loss Day, in the Russell Community Room at UHS Binghamton General Hospital.  That observance will be a day to honor those who have lost loved ones to suicide.