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Thinking About Suicide? Help Is Available Here

Thinking About Suicide? Help Is Available Here



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If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, you’re not alone.

Support and guidance are available from all suicide hotlines and resources listed on this page.

No matter your age, gender, background, or ethnicity, help is available right now.

Website

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has more than 180 local- and state-funded crisis centers throughout the United States.

Their trained counselors will respect your confidentiality and listen and support you in a variety of situations, including:

  • substance use
  • economic concerns
  • relationship conflict
  • sexual identity
  • abuse
  • depression
  • mental and physical illness
  • loneliness

When you call, you’ll be asked questions about your safety, feelings, social situation, and if you have any thoughts of suicide. Their goal is to reduce your stress so that you can make decisions for yourself and your future.

Additional resources

  • Tele-interpreters service is available in more than 150 languages.
  • Youth and teens
  • Disaster survivors
  • Native Americans
  • LGBTQ+
  • Veterans
  • Suicide attempt survivors
  • Suicide loss survivors

Website

Whether or not you’re registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA healthcare, this helpline is available for you.

They serve all veterans, active service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and family and friends.

You’ll speak with someone trained and experienced in handling the unique experiences that can affect your life. They can also refer you to a local group to help you find the counseling services you may need.

Website


For any emotional crisis, the Crisis Text Line allows you to contact a trained crisis counselor.

Although the first two responses are automated, asking you to share your situation, you’ll usually connect with a counselor in less than 5 minutes.

Your conversation may last from 15 to 45 minutes. They’ll help you sort through your feelings, help you create a safety plan, or refer you to more help if you need it.

You can also message them through Facebook Messenger.

Confidential measures

Nothing will appear on your bill if your cellphone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. For other carriers, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. If you’re messaging through an app, you can have your data deleted by messaging them the word LOOFAH.

Teen Line works with professional counselors and teen volunteers, and it’s for teen callers only. When you text or call them, you’ll connect with someone who’s around your age.

The first thing they’ll ask is your name and age, and then what you’d like to talk about.

The trained teen volunteers will listen to your concerns and support you, and they won’t judge you. They’ve helped other teens with a variety of concerns and challenges, including:

  • abuse
  • depression
  • parents divorce
  • bullying
  • anxiety
  • gangs
  • gender identity
  • homelessness
  • pregnancy
  • relationships
  • sexuality
  • violence
  • substance abuse
  • self-harm
  • suicide

Website

The Trevor Project is a national organization that offers support and guidance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth between ages 13 and 24.

They offer a toll-free line and secure instant messaging where trained counselors can connect with you and guide you to the resources you may need. All resources are fully confidential and free.

Website

DeafLEAD provides a full range of services for the deaf community, and they also offer a few lines and contact methods for those in need.

They offer crisis support as well as advocacy and mental health services for deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and DeafBlind victims of crimes and their families.

These are some of the concerns and problems they are ready to address and offer support for:

  • domestic violence and or family violence
  • sexual assault
  • bullying (verbal, cyber, or physical)
  • child abuse or neglect
  • elder abuse or neglect
  • hate crime: racial/religious/sexual orientation/other
  • teen dating victimization
  • violation of a court (protective) order
  • kidnapping (includes parental/custodial)
  • human trafficking: labor or sex
  • robbery
  • DUI/DWI incidents
  • identity theft/Fraud/Financial Crime

Website

Befrienders Worldwide is a global organization designed to improve access to information and support for suicide prevention.

All volunteers have been trained to listen and provide support for people who feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Befrienders operates 349 emotional support centers in 32 countries in 5 continents.

When you call a support line, you’ll be able to talk about your concerns in a safe space with someone who’s been trained to support you.

They’ll start by asking you some questions about why you are calling. These questions will help them determine your level of safety. You’ll never be forced to share any information you want to keep private. But the more you share, the better they can help you.

If they are concerned about your safety, they will encourage you to seek help or guide you to other resources. They might provide you with numbers to call or places to go. You can ask lifeline volunteers to stay on the phone or chat until you feel better.

When you’re ready, they may provide you with some local resources that you can access to get further support.

Many hotlines can also help you create a safety plan if you need to exit a situation where you don’t feel safe or have suicidal thoughts.

You can call these support lines as many times as you need, although you might connect with different volunteers every time.


Psychologist suicide

A colleague's death is hard to contemplate. But the suicides of two psychologists in 2008 — as well as those of noted psychologists Michael J. Mahoney, PhD, in 2006, and Lawrence Kohlberg, PhD, in 1987 — prompted an ad hoc APA committee to look closely at what is known about this hazard and what the profession can do about it.

The group – led by Phillip M. Kleespies, PhD, of the VA Boston Healthcare System and made up of members of APA's Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance, the APA Practice Directorate and the APA Div. 12 (Clinical) Section on Clinical Emergencies and Crises — examined research in four critical areas: suicide rates, risk factors, impact on others and how colleagues support psychologists in distress. They also examined the current state of prevention and intervention, and suggested ways to enhance training in this vital area.

In terms of rates, research is mixed and sparse about whether psychologists are more likely to commit suicide than other professions, write the working group members in the June issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (Vol. 42, No. 3). Some studies show elevated rates among white female psychologists, for example, but not among white male psychologists or black psychologists, and there are no studies looking at psychologists of other ethnicities.

However, several studies support the idea that psychologists may have an elevated risk for suicidal ideation and behavior compared to general population, the team also found. A 2009 APA survey, for instance, found that 40 percent to 60 percent of psychological practitioners reported some disruption in professional functioning due to burnout, anxiety or depression. Moreover, case studies suggest that a therapist's suicide can profoundly and negatively affect clients, while other studies indicate that psychologists are often insufficiently educated on the best ways to intervene with a distressed colleague.

Given these factors, the authors recommend the following actions:

A more concerted and formal effort to build education on suicide risk and prevention into graduate training.

Better training of professionals on possible signs of suicidality and ways to intervene with struggling colleagues, for example through continuing education and state psychological association mechanisms.

More emphasis normalizing the challenges of being a practicing psychologist, an approach increasingly taken by many state psychological associations' colleague assistance programs. One aspect of this strategy is fostering the use of regular self-care strategies for all psychologists.

Better education on "post-ventions," or what to do in the event of a colleague's suicide. This includes having immediate support and mechanisms in place for all affected individuals, and longer-term supports for those who may need them. In general for the profession, having a professional will in place can greatly facilitate how patient records and issues are handled in the event of death from any cause.

More research on whether psychologists are at unique risk for suicide given possible self-selection factors and factors specific to the therapy profession, such as the intense and isolated nature of the work.

Whether or not research ends up showing an elevated risk among psychologists, it's vital the profession tackle all aspects of prevention and post-vention given the potentially profound effect of suicide on clients and others, they write.

"Suicide by psychologists, individuals with special expertise in human behavior, seems to be particularly fraught with challenges and raises concerns specific to psychology such as doubt in the value of therapy," they write. "Identifying risks, reducing the stigma associated with acknowledging hopelessness or despair, and overcoming other barriers to intervention are critical to reducing the incidence of suicide."


What makes suicide different

The death of a loved one is never easy to experience, whether it comes without warning or after a long struggle with illness. But several circumstances set death by suicide apart and make the grief process more challenging. For example:

A traumatic aftermath. Death by suicide is sudden, sometimes violent, and usually unexpected. Depending on the situation, survivors may need to deal with the police or handle press inquiries. While you are still in shock, you may be asked whether you want to visit the death scene. Sometimes officials will discourage the visit as too upsetting at other times, you may be told you'll be grateful that you didn't leave it to your imagination. "Either may be the right decision for an individual. But it can add to the trauma if people feel that they don't have a choice," says Jack Jordan, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and co-author of After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief.

You may have recurring thoughts of the death and its circumstances, replaying the final moments over and over in an effort to understand — or simply because you can't get the thoughts out of your head. Some suicide survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that can become chronic if not treated. In PTSD, the trauma is involuntarily re-lived in intrusive images that can create anxiety and a tendency to avoid anything that might trigger the memory.

Stigma, shame, and isolation. Suicide can isolate survivors from their community and even from other family members. There's still a powerful stigma attached to mental illness (a factor in most suicides), and many religions specifically condemn the act as a sin, so survivors may understandably be reluctant to acknowledge or disclose the circumstances of such a death. Family differences over how to publicly discuss the death can make it difficult even for survivors who want to speak openly to feel comfortable doing so. The decision to keep the suicide a secret from outsiders, children, or selected relatives can lead to isolation, confusion, and shame that may last for years or even generations. In addition, if relatives blame one another — thinking perhaps that particular actions or a failure to act may have contributed to events — that can greatly undermine a family's ability to provide mutual support.

Mixed emotions. After a homicide, survivors can direct their anger at the perpetrator. In a suicide, the victim is the perpetrator, so there is a bewildering clash of emotions. On one hand, a person who dies by suicide may appear to be a victim of mental illness or intolerable circumstances. On the other hand, the act may seem like an assault on or rejection of those left behind. So the feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment that occur after many deaths are especially intense and difficult to sort out after a suicide.

Need for reason. "What if" questions may arise after any death. What if we'd gone to a doctor sooner? What if we hadn't let her drive to the basketball game? After a suicide, these questions may be extreme and self-punishing — unrealistically condemning the survivor for failing to predict the death or to intervene effectively or on time. Experts tell us that in such circumstances, survivors tend to greatly overestimate their own contributing role — and their ability to affect the outcome.

"Suicide can shatter the things you take for granted about yourself, your relationships, and your world," says Dr. Jordan. Many survivors need to conduct a psychological "autopsy," finding out as much as they can about the circumstances and factors leading to the suicide, in order to develop a narrative that makes sense to them. While doing this, they can benefit from the help of professionals or friends who are willing to listen — without attempting to supply answers — even if the same questions are asked again and again.

Sometimes a person with a disabling or terminal disease chooses suicide as a way of gaining control or hastening the end. When a suicide can be understood that way, survivors may feel relieved of much of their what-if guilt. It doesn't mean someone didn't love their life. The grieving process may be very different than after other suicides.

A risk for survivors. People who've recently lost someone through suicide are at increased risk for thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide. After any loss of a loved one, it's not unusual to wish you were dead that doesn't mean you'll act on the wish. But if these feelings persist or grow more intense, confide in someone you trust, and seek help from a mental health professional.


Thinking About Suicide? Here's Where To Get Help.

On Second Thought recently featured the story of Marquis Tolbert. The 17-year-old took his own life in 2012. The decision to do so was a shock to his mother, Schrence Wright, who is now working to start a scholarship fund and a nonprofit to raise awareness about youth suicide in the African-American community. It's a growing problem.

A study by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH found that the suicide rate among black children under the age of 12 has increased, nearly doubling in the last 20 years. Black boys are particularly susceptible.

Press play to listen to the interview with Wright, Georgia State University professor Makungu Akinyela and George Washington University professor Sherry Molock


The following online suicide prevention resources were recommended by OST guest Sherry Molock, an associate professor of psychology at George Washington University and co-pastor of Beloved Community Church in Maryland.

If you or a loved one have thought about suicide, or have tried committing suicide, please seek help. Here are some resources to get you started.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


Thinking About Suicide? Help Is Available Here - Psychology

The Office of Suicide Prevention is pleased to curate this collection of resources for mental health providers and members of the public. If your organization has a prevention resource you would like us to share on this page, please contact us at (email or phone) to discuss your materials.

If You Are Thinking About Suicide

1-855-654-6735

Need someone to talk to? NJ Hopeline is here to help.

Specialists are available for confidential telephone counseling and support 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

You are not alone. Suicide is preventable. There is hope.

Text NJ to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support

New Jersey Mental Health Cares is New Jersey's behavioral health information and referral service. Behavioral care specialist are available from 8:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. By dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the call is routed to the nearest crisis center in a national network of more than 150 crisis centers. The Lifeline's national network of local crisis centers provides crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night.


1-866-COP-2COP
1-866-267-2267

COP 2 COP is a free and confidential 24-hour telephone HelpLine. It is available exclusively for law enforcement officers and their families to help deal with personal or job related stress and behavioral healthcare issues.

1-866-VETS-NJ4
1-866-838-7654

New Jersey Vet2Vet is a 24 hour/7-day a week helpline coordinated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. The helpline features peer counseling for Veterans, members of the Air/Army National Guard, and family members.


Help & Resources

It can be very difficult to understand suicide. Sometimes there is no way to understand – the person who dies by suicide has a very deep pain that defies explanation, even to themselves. However, trying to understand what drives someone to such a desperate act might lead to help for others.

The following resources offer a very good overview of the things that might drive someone to suicidal thoughts, and how friends and family can step in and possibly stop a tragedy from occurring.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an organization that provides emotional support to those contemplating suicide. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7. The website provides additional resources on how to help, including explaining mental health issues and how to prevent suicide.

In addition to providing free, confidential and readily available help for those contemplating suicide or individuals who know someone who is, it also provides veteran specific information for suicide risk factors and reasons why a veteran might be thinking or talking about suicide, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

This is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services that promotes awareness of substance abuse problems and mental illness in the United States, as well as initiatives to help reduce their impact. As drug or alcohol use and/or mental illness is often involved in a suicide or suicide attempt, information about these two issues can provide a broad understanding to motivations and thought processes around suicide.

This is a federally supported organization that promotes the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, developed by the US Surgeon General and the US Department of Health and Human Services. They provide a tremendous amount of suicide information, from a best practices registry to training to publications to the basics of suicide prevention.

Provides suicide data and statistics on suicide as well as information concerning suicide risk factors, methods of preventing suicide and suicide research.


Choosing a therapist is a privilege many suicidal people don't have. Some suicidal people can't afford the clinician they want, or afford a clinician at all. Many live in rural communities where there's a dearth of practitioners, or long wait lists for care.

If you don't have access to the care you want right now, there is still help available:

  • You can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.
  • The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness has support groups for people living with mental illness.
  • The suicide prevention website Now Matters Now offers personal stories from suicide survivors and teaches skills that are part of DBT.
  • Stage's website, Live Through This, includes portraits of suicide survivors "to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they&rsquore not alone."

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.

Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

Alia E. Dastagir is a recipient of a Rosalynn Carter fellowship for mental health journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @alia_e


Suicide Prevention: Help is Available 24/7

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is available.

Cornell resources (24/7)

Cornell Health on-call support: 607-255-5155 (when we’re closed, you will be connected with an on-call mental health professional who can provide consultation and make referrals to other Cornell and Ithaca resources )

Suicide hotlines (24/7)

Text / chat services (24/7)

National Crisis Text Line (24/7): Text HELLO to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor

The Steve Fund text line (24/7): Text STEVE to 741741 (for young people of color)

International hotlines

More information .

What to do if you feel suicidal

If you are contemplating suicide – or thinking about harming yourself – please reach out for support. You are not alone, and help is available. Things can get better.

If you’re in crisis, contact one of the resources listed above, or go to your local hospital emergency department.

For ongoing support, please schedule an appointment with a Cornell Health counselor as soon as possible. For urgent concerns, call us 24/7 at 607-255-5155 (press 1 during business hours) to be seen right away.

You can also talk to a trusted friend or family member, connect with a trained peer counselor through Cornell's EARS program, or contact any of the resources listed on Cornell’s Caring Community website.

Remember .

Suicidal thoughts, like all thoughts, are temporary. Suicide is permanent.

Depression and other mental health challenges can distort your perspective and make things seem worse than they truly are – or make you believe that you’ll never feel good again. But the pain or challenges you feel now will not last forever. Help is available. And help works.

Suicidal thinking can be treated. Depression has excellent recovery rates, as do many other mental illnesses. Know that you are not alone: there are numerous people and resources in our caring community who are here for you and who can help you feel better.

How to help someone else

In an emergency, call the Cornell Police at 607-255-1111.

You can also call us at 607-255-5155 for 24/7 assistance (when we’re closed, our answering service will connect you with an on-call health care provider within 30 minutes).

For more information .

  • Students: Visit our Concern for Others page
  • Staff and faculty members: Refer to our Resources for Faculty & Staff page
  • Parents and guardians: Visit our Especially for Parents & Guardians page

Suicide at Cornell

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults. Although suicide is somewhat less common among college students than among young adults who are not enrolled in college, recent studies show that college student depression and anxiety are at all-time highs. Left untreated, these mental health issues (among others) can lead to suicidal thinking.

At Cornell, student survey data illustrate the need for continued and sustained mental health promotion services and support for students in distress. According to the most recent Cornell PULSE (Perceptions of Undergraduate Life and Student Experiences) Survey of undergraduate students:

  • 42.9% of survey respondents reported being unable to function academically (e.g., missing classes, unable to study or complete homework) for at least a week due to depression, stress or anxiety at least once during the last year.
  • 11.8% of survey respondents reported having seriously considered attempting suicide at least once during the last year.
  • 2.1% of survey respondents reported having actually attempted suicide at least once in the last year.

Historically, the average incidence of suicide at Cornell has been consistent with national averages but Cornell has never been resigned to being "average" in this measure. Mental health needs and concerns have increased on college campuses over the past several decades. During the same time frame, the university has dedicated more resources and services toward mental health promotion, mental health care, and suicide prevention.

Cornell has been recognized for its proactive response to a suicide cluster that occurred on campus in 2009. As part of its comprehensive approach to suicide prevention, Cornell implemented a means restriction project compatible with the unique and beautiful topography of the campus. In partnership with the City of Ithaca, Cornell installed steel mesh netting below seven bridges that cross deep campus gorges, as well as protective fencing at various locations along the gorges.

Learn more about our suicide prevention work on our Mental Health Initiatives page.

Reporting on suicide

Suicide is a public health issue. Media coverage of suicide can influence the public’s behavior – either negatively by contributing to a “contagion factor,” or positively by encouraging help-seeking. It is imperative that the media follow the reporting guidelines established by media and suicide-prevention experts. Please visit our Media Inquiries page for details.


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Recovering from suicidal thoughts

Even if your suicidal thoughts and feelings have subsided, get help for yourself. Experiencing that sort of emotional pain is itself a traumatizing experience. Finding a support group or therapist can be very helpful in decreasing the chances that you will feel suicidal again in the future.

You can get help and referrals from your doctor or from the crisis lines listed below.

5 steps to recovery

  1. Identify triggers or situations that lead to feelings of despair or generate suicidal thoughts, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Find ways to avoid these places, people, or situations.
  2. Take care of yourself. Eat right, don’t skip meals, and get plenty of sleep. Exercise is also key: it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
  3. Build your support network. Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more you have to lose—which will help you stay positive and on the recovery track.
  4. Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. When you’re doing things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself and feelings of despair are less likely to return.
  5. Learn to deal with stress in a healthy way. Find healthy ways to keep your stress levels in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.

Suicide crisis lines in the U.S.:

The Trevor Project offers suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline offers referrals for substance abuse and mental health treatment at 1-800-662-4357.

Suicide crisis lines worldwide:

In the UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123.

In Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14.

In Canada: Call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566.

In other countries: Find a helpline near you at Befrienders Worldwide, IASP, or International Suicide Hotlines.

Authors: Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Last updated: September 2020

Get more help

If you are thinking about suicide, read this first – Tips for getting you through when you’re feeling suicidal. (Metanoia.org)

About Suicide – Information for those considering suicide or have attempted suicide in the past. (NHS)

Coping with Suicidal Thoughts (PDF) – How to understand your suicidal feelings and how to develop a safety plan. (Consortium for Organizational Mental Health)