Suicide often lives in the shadows, even though it’s affected many Central New Yorkers. But the issue is getting more attention today during International Suicide Awareness Week.
Crisis experts say suicide is a stigma that often leaves families and friends feeling like they could have done something to prevent a suicide attempt or death. Cheryl Giarrusso, director of Crisis Intervention at Contact Community Services, said there can be layers of shame.
“Many times there is a mental health issue or mental health complications that are behind a suicide attempt, and those issues are treatable. There’s so much stigma around depression and mental health issues that it’s compounded when you add suicide.”
Giarrusso says there are many possible warning signs that family and friends can look for, including:
- Drastic changes in someone’s personality and behavior including depression and moodiness
- Recent losses in a person’s life, possibly death by suicide of a family member
- Giving away prized possessions
- Talking about suicide, or having a preoccupation with death including making a plan or talking about not being here in the future
Giarrusso says recognizing the signs of suicide, is the best way toward a path of prevention and getting someone help.
“Allowing the person a safe place to talk is most helpful. People are fearful when suicide is mentioned because you ask the question, and you might get a yes answer and you say ‘Oh, what do I do next?’ If people are calling [the hotline], they’re not acting.”
Contact Community Services is especially focusing on groups like teenagers and veterans who have higher suicide rates. Programs have been put in place for veterans to receive any help they need. Teenagers will soon have access to an online chat room. Contact Community Services hotline is 251-0600.