LatinaLista — Suicide. It's a single word identifying a single act by a single individual that impacts an array of people and invokes a multitude of emotions -- disbelief, sadness, anger, puzzlement and guilt.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Latina high school students in grades 9-12 have a higher percentage of suicide attempts (14%) than either White, non-Hispanic (7.7%) or Black, non-Hispanic (9.9%) female students.
The number is significant but given the fact that suicide is on the long list of subjects still considered taboo to discuss, it's not surprising that the warning signs of suicide are missed in Latino families.
Well, in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day we owe it to our young people, and others, to notice when something is going horribly wrong in the lives of those we care about.
The American Association of Suicidology recommends memorizing the following mnemonic:
IS PATH WARM?
S Substance Abuse
M Mood Changes
Warning Signs of Acute Risk:
Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or,
Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
These might be remembered as expressed or communicated ideation. If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.
Additional Warning Signs:
Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
Feeling trapped - like there's no way out
Withdrawal from friends, family and society
Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
Dramatic mood changes.
If any of these signs are noticed in a friend or family member tell someone about it so that person gets help.
In the meantime, there are other things that can be done today to draw more awareness to suicide prevention:
It is being asked that at 8 p.m. tonight everyone place a lit candle in a window to honor the memory of a loved one who committed suicide, survivors of suicide and to highlight suicide prevention.
Become a member of the Facebook group It's On My Mind and donate your Facebook status to World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide is a real problem and only be drawing attention to it can real dialogue start about how suicide isn't the answer to any problem - no matter how big it seems.