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Substance Use Awareness of World Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which draws attention to the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages. Suicide frequently stems from major depression and other mood disorders, meaning suicides can be prevented with the proper treatment.

What Is National Suicide Awareness Month?

September creates an open conversation about different individuals’ experiences and related mental illnesses, which reduces the stigma of mental health. National Suicide Awareness Month also spreads some of the key signs that someone may be considering suicide or using alcohol to cope with suicidal thoughts. To be an active participant in the month, learn the warning signs of suicide and substance use so you or a loved one can get help.

Several organizations and individuals also generate suicide awareness. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is one of the largest mental health organizations, and rallies community members, survivors and allies to spread information about suicide prevention. Celebrities, including Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Halsey, have also spoken out about suicide prevention.

Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

A variety of factors can contribute to someone’s suicidal thoughts, including family history, genetics, mental health and environmental factors. Some of the specific risk factors that could cause someone to experience suicidal tendencies include:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
  • Relationship or marriage issues
  • Prolonged and excessive stress
  • Family history of suicide
  • Early childhood abuse or trauma

In addition to the risk factors associated with suicide, there are also warning signs to watch for if someone may be considering taking their own life. If you notice any of these suicidal warning signs in a family member or friend, you should take them seriously:

  • Discussing suicide: If someone is contemplating suicide, they may mention it, even as a joke or in a casual manner. They could also discuss feeling trapped, hopeless or like a burden to others.
  • Showing changes in behavior: Someone who is suicidal may begin to isolate themselves more and interact with friends and family less. They may also engage in substance use or act more aggressively or irrationally than they did previously.
  • Displaying frequent mood swings: If someone is thinking about taking their own life, they may also experience severe mood swings. Whether they are depressed and anxious or angry and violent, these emotions could be signs they are considering suicide and acting out as a result.

These key signs that someone is contemplating suicide may be paired with an increase in alcohol or drug use. Alcohol and suicidal thoughts are closely linked because people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts often turn to alcohol to self-medicate. However, self-medication can quickly lead to a substance use disorder.

The Connection Between Substance Use and Suicide

Suicide and alcohol are linked in a variety of ways. People who experience depression and suicidal thoughts frequently turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of their depression. However, this type of self-medication can lead to a substance use disorder, which can worsen depression and ultimately cause suicide.

Many adolescents who committed suicide had a substance use disorder and major depression or another mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder or dysthymia. To treat both addiction and suicide, a professional needs to perform a dual diagnosis, which will identify the specific type of substance use disorder and depression someone is experiencing. After this diagnosis, a medical professional can create an effective treatment plan. Ultimately, a dual diagnosis and professional treatment can lead to more permanent and long-lasting results.

To recover from your substance use and mental health disorder, it’s important to find a rehabilitation facility that will treat the underlying cause of your addiction.

Reach Out to Gateway Foundation for Addiction Treatment Therapy

At Gateway Foundation, we have been helping people on the journey to recovery for over 50 years. Because of our experience, we understand how to provide effective treatment plans based on your dual diagnosis.

Our compassionate team of medical professionals uses evidence-based approaches and a variety of different therapies to understand the underlying cause of your substance use disorder. To begin your journey to a sober life, contact us today!

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