Learn the Signs of Suicide Risk and Know How to Get Help

Suicide Prevention Month

Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. However, though they are common, suicidal thoughts are an indication that someone is in need of help and often point to more serious issues.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to share resources and stories to educate and help those who are dealing with suicidal thoughts and/or ideation.


Know How to Get Help

If you or someone you care about may be at risk of suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out for help right away. These resources are available 24/7:

  • Call Community Services Board Emergency Services at 703-573-5679.
  • Text “CONNECT” to 855-11 to contact PRS CrisisLink.
  • Call PRS CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • In an immediate, life-threatening situation, call 911.


Learn to Recognize the Signs

It’s impossible to truly know what others are thinking and feeling, but knowing the common signs of suicide risk can help you identify potential negative thoughts and patterns early on. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

The recently released 2018-2019 Youth Survey that looks at the range of issues affecting our kids in the 2018-2019 school year found that depression is inching up. If you are concerned about your teen’s mood, take a brief, confidential online screening.


Remove or Secure Firearms, Medication and Other Risk Items

Studies show that when firearms are accessible, individuals are more than three times likely to die by suicide and that the majority of people who suicide use firearms (61%) or poisons (19%). Limiting access to firearms and poisons (known as lethal means restriction) for a person in crisis is an essential strategy for preventing suicide.

The CSB implemented a new program called Lock & Talk Northern Virginia that provides medication lock boxes, locking pill bottles and trigger and cable locks for guns for free at locations across the county.

Learn More about Lock & Talk


Be Open to Talking About Suicide

Talking about the problem of suicide can save lives, reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking behaviors. Be direct, share concerns, and be ready with a list of resources (such as those in this article) to help start the conversation.

Even our Police Department has begun openly discussing the topic. They recently developed a survey that was completed by almost 5,000 first responders in 26 public safety agencies throughout the commonwealth of Virginia and found that:

  • Nearly 8% of first responders admitted to recent thoughts of suicide.  By comparison, the estimated rate of suicidal thoughts in the general U.S. population is 3%.
  • Almost one out of four (23.7%) respondents said they suffered depression as a consequence of their work.
  • Three out of 10 respondents wanted to “tough it out” or handle it on their own; another three out of 10 feared stigma or that their employer would find out.  This was especially true for those who have suffered from depression or suicidal thoughts.
Read More about the Survey Results



Remember There Is Help

No one needs to go through this alone. Whether you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or know someone else who is, there is help.

For help in finding a local mental health service provider, or to inquire about accessing CSB non-emergency services, call CSB Entry and Referral Services (available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at 703-383-8500, TTY 711.

Youth and adults can also come in person, without prior appointment, to Entry & Referral Services at the CSB’s Merrifield Center Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be screened for services. [Learn what happens during an assessment.]

Peer Support is available from people who have had similar experiences giving each other encouragement, hope, assistance and understanding that aids in recovery.

Still not sure where to go? Learn more on our Suicide Prevention Resources Page.

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