Did You Know Suicides Spike AFTER the Holidays?
How you can help someone at risk
January 1, 2021
There is no doubt suicide rates are climbing. But you might find it surprising to know the risk does not go up at Christmastime. The truth is December has the lowest suicide rates of the year. However, there seems to be a spike in suicides specifically on New Year’s Day.
Increased alcohol consumption during New Year’s may play a role. Perhaps people at risk feel overwhelmed at the thought of making it through another year. Depression and desperation can drive the decision to end one’s life.
Statistics aside, it’s important to remember that people can act on suicidal thoughts any time, any day. If you suspect someone is wrestling with these kinds of feelings, the worst thing to do is nothing. Here are ways you can help:
1. Stay in contact. Now that the celebrating has ended, they may be more likely to believe now is the best time to make a crucial decision that might lead them to end their lives.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—it won’t push a person to take action. Ask things like: How are you feeling? Are you considering harming yourself? Have you had thoughts like this before? Have you tried to hurt yourself in the past? Have you thought about how you might harm yourself? Are you able to access the things that you would need?
3. Allow them to express their feelings without being censored. This can be therapeutic, so don’t be afraid to “go there” in the conversation.
4. If you feel they are at risk, don’t leave them alone. If they’re willing to go to the hospital with you (and you feel safe doing so), take them to the emergency room. If that’s not an option, call 911.
5. Don’t assume that it’s “your job” to save someone from taking their life. You can encourage, reach out, and “be present,” but understand there is nothing you can do to keep that person from making the decision to take their own life.
If they are considering self-harm, tell them they can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.
They may also call the crisis hotline at their local county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board. Below are a couple of options:
Summit County ADM Board: 330-434-9144
Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board: 216-623-6888