Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September 21st

2023

Suicide Awareness Month 2023

Suicide is a topic that everyone hopes to avoid; it’s painful and uncomfortable to talk about and can have devastating consequences. But the reality is that suicide is a real and prevalent issue for all of us, one that we can’t push away. At KohParenting, our mission is to tackle even the most difficult aspects of life head-on so that we can understand them better and find healthy solutions. In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we dedicate this week’s post to open, respectful conversation about suicide and its impact on co-parenting families. Transition sentence here?

The Gist

  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in this country. National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month intends to educate the public on suicide and mental illness, share resources and strategies, and mobilize people to get involved in the cause.
  • Co-parenting families can be vulnerable to suicide. Separation and divorce are traumatic experiences for parents and children and can lead to mental health challenges, including suicidality.
  • To prevent suicide, educate yourself about mental health and get comfortable talking about it. Learn and practice self-care, create a safe home environment for sharing problems and concerns, and reinforce unconditional love for your children and loved ones.

Signs of suicidality include: strong emotions, mood swings, expressing guilt, anxiety, or feeling like a “burden” to others, behavioral changes, substance use, and talking about wanting to die or planning to kill oneself. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone else, access support immediately.


Suicide in America: An Ever-Increasing Problem with Devastating Consequences

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month takes place every September. Its existence reflects two important truths: (1) the increasing rates of suicide in America, and (2) the belief that the key to addressing this problem lies in awareness and open dialogue. While the general public has long known about the concept of suicide, the idea of preventing it has only recently come to the forefront. The first suicide prevention center opened in Southern California in 1958, and in 2001 SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) created a system of local, certified centers across the country. In 2012, the government acknowledged the importance of a streamlined, coordinated support process to address suicidality by creating the “National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.” National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month intends to reinforce these efforts by providing information and resources for the public to understand and prevent unnecessary loss of life (visit This Source for more information).

Did you know that:
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
  • Overall suicide deaths increased 36% from 2000-2021
  • In 2021, 1 suicide death occurred every 11 minutes in the U.S.
  • Males make up 50% of the population but 80% of suicides
  • Source: Suicide Data and Statistics | Suicide | CDC
Mental Health awareness Month- September 2023

Co-Parenting and Suicide:

Significant life changes, relationship difficulties, financial burden, stressful environments or schedules: these are all challenges facing most co-parents. They’re also risk factors for suicide. This means that co-parents may be more susceptible to mental health challenges. Recent research supports this trend; for example, divorced people are 6 times more likely to report symptoms of depression than married people (Read More).

The end of a romantic relationship can be traumatic in and of itself, particularly when children are involved. However, ongoing conflict between parenting partners, financial hardship, or loss of child custody time cause even greater damage. Single parenting can also create feelings of isolation and stress and sometimes cut people off from the support system they so desperately need.

In addition to separated or divorced adults, vulnerability to suicide also increases among children in co-parenting families. Children experience a wide range of emotional and behavioral changes in response to parental separation and all the subsequent life-altering changes and transitions.They may feel sadness, anger, anxiety, or depression. According to a recent study Kids Of Divorce And Suicide: New Study Shows Link | HuffPost Life, people whose parents divorced before they turned 18 have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts (three times as likely for males in particular!)

This evidence does not say that separation or divorce leads to suicide in children or adults, but that it may increase risk. Co-parents need to be aware of this trend so that they can monitor themselves and their children for signs of mental health struggles and intervene promptly. By handling their separation and co-parenting dynamic sensitively and respectfully and providing their children with a safe space to process their feelings, co-parents can bolster resilience and prevent potential difficulties in adulthood.


Taking Action to Prevent Suicide

Suicide is entirely preventable when we address it appropriately. Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself, your child, and your loved ones.

  • Bring mental health into everyday conversation. Mental health is equally important as physical health, but we are only now more open to discussing it. Getting comfortable bringing the topic to light is one of the first steps toward decreasing stigma around mental health issues. Talk with your loved ones about mental wellness, and don’t be afraid to be honest about your struggles and how you handle them. Doing so can normalize mental health issues and teach your children that “it’s ok not to be ok” and that sharing your feelings with others can be helpful. To get started, read books, watch documentaries or other programs on the topic, or visit Suicide Prevention Month | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.

**Note: Be mindful of what your child is exposed to regarding mental health and suicide. If the topic comes up while you're watching tv or a movie or even the news, take the opportunity to start a conversation about it. This way, you can process it together and convey a healthy message about the subject to your child.

  • Create a safe environment for open communication. Do you want your children and loved ones to confide in you? If so, consider what type of person you need to be to earn their trust. Set the stage early by utilizing assertive (rather than passive or aggressive) communication styles and cultivating your listening skills. Make it a habit to respond to others calmly, without judging or personalizing what they’re doing or saying. In this way you can establish yourself as a safe person for others to talk to when they’re struggling. It also shows your willingness to hear other people’s concerns about you.
  • Reinforce the idea of unconditional love. The security of knowing that you’re loved no matter what can strengthen your self-worth and build resilience. Unfortunately, many of us have internalized the idea that our value lies in our appearance, material possessions, or career success. But happiness that depends on these changeable, external qualities is fragile; what happens if our bodies change or we lose our jobs? Express your appreciation and gratitude not only for what others have or do but for who they are. Praise children for their efforts, not their results; for example, you can say, “You worked so hard on that science project; you should be proud of yourself! I’m proud of you!” rather than “Yes! An A!! Good job!”
  • Utilize healthy coping mechanisms. We’re not born with limitless energy to withstand all of life’s emotional ups and downs; this resilience must be learned and practiced regularly. Find strategies to manage your stress, such as meditation, exercise, quality sleep, balanced nutrition, devoting time to people and activities that fuel your soul, etc. Teach your children these strategies, as well.
  • Know the signs. Most physical ailments have obvious signs; a person clutching his chest may be having a heart attack, a child itching red spots all over his body could have contracted chicken pox. Suicide is usually not that overt, and its symptoms may vary; however, there are some general signs common to suicidal people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these include:
    • Feeling hopeless, trapped, or like a failure
    • Extremely intense emotions (usually sadness, guilt, anxiety, agitation, anger) or mood swings
    • Talking about feeling sad, guilty, ashamed, etc.
    • Talking about or apologizing for being a “burden”
    • Risk-taking behavior that puts one’s life in danger
    • Eating, drinking, or sleeping more than usual
    • Substance use
    • Giving away possessions
    • Saying goodbye or writing and sending “farewell” letters
    • Making arrangements or death: researching or making a plan for how to die, writing a will, etc.
    • Saying ‘I want to die,” or “I’m going to kill myself”
    For more info, visit: NIMH » Warning Signs of Suicide (nih.gov)
  • Get help. When it comes to mental health issues, prompt intervention is key to successful treatment. Consider enlisting services from a trained professional such as a counselor or therapist; you can get referral information from primary care or pediatric providers, social service agencies, schools, or from your insurance provider. However, if challenges escalate to the point of questioning or talking about ending ones life, then more urgent care may be necessary. Suicidality is a mental health emergency, and should be treated as such. Call 9-1-1 or utilize hotlines such as: Lifeline (988lifeline.org)

    Learning about suicide and mental health go hand-in-hand. That’s why we’ve covered this topic in multiple posts.

    To read our series on mental health, go to: Co parenting | Koh-Parenting Services | Blogs


What’s shareable, is bearable.

Suicide is a very human issue, and it needs a “human” solution. To prevent suicide, we must all band together to talk about mental health and treatment. If you’d like to add your voice to the discussion, consider posting about National Suicide Prevention Month on social media, sharing resources (you can find some great ones Here), donating your time or money to service organizations, and, most importantly, checking in on your co-parent, child, and loved ones.

Next week, look out for our post on respectful parenting. Kids are people too, and we adults can sometimes forget that. Our content will serve as a helpful reminder and give some tips for co-parents everywhere.

Where you can stay informed on what's happening in the world of co-parenting and learn more about what we do.


By Koh-Parenting Services LLC


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