Zack Snyder, the director of “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Darkness,” attended the Out of the Darkness Walk in Santa Monica, California, which was a fundraiser and an awareness activity to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For Zack, it was personal: He lost his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, to suicide last spring. This extremely traumatic event led to him stepping down as the director of “Justice League,” as he took the time to spend healing and grieving with his family. After such an excruciating loss, Zack and his daughter, Willow, are hoping to spread awareness about suicide and how to prevent it.
- Approximately 121 people die by suicide every day in the United States, adding up to a total of over 44,000 deaths.
- Men die by suicide much more frequently than women, but more women than men attempt suicide.
- Firearms are the weapon used in nearly half of all suicides.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in people of all ages and the second or third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults.
- Suicide numbers, however, are highest in middle-aged adults and elderly adults.
Signs That Someone Is Considering Suicide
Suicide can often be prevented if people close to the individual are aware of both the risk factors and the signs of suicidal ideation. The warning signs that someone is considering suicide include:
- An obsession with death
- Talking about wanting to die
- Saying that they feel hopeless
- Talking about being in a lot of pain or being a burden to others
- Sleep disturbances (sleeping too little or too much)
- Appetite disturbances (eating too little or too much)
- Dropping friends and withdrawing from spending time with others
- Developing a lot of anxiety
- Severe mood swings
- Gathering a weapon or substances with which to commit suicide
- Writing a suicide note
- Attempting suicide
Risk Factors for Suicide
While anyone can attempt or complete suicide, some people are more likely than others to do so.
Someone who has recently gone through a loss, such as the loss of a family member or a loved one, might be more likely than they normally would be to consider suicide. The loss does not have to be a death; divorce and a romantic breakup could have the same effect. Even a close friend moving away could prompt suicidal feelings in some people. Job loss is another potential risk factor.
Those who have depression or anxiety, particularly if they are untreated or poorly treated, can also be more prone to suicide. People with these conditions often use substances to self-medicate; the substances can lower inhibitions enough to allow suicidal thoughts to become a reality. Serious mental health issues, like schizophrenia and some mood disorders, are additional risk factors.
One troubling risk factor is a local cluster of suicides. If others in your community or in your teen’s school have attempted or completed suicide, this can prompt others to do so as well. Be particularly aware of the risk factors and symptoms of suicidal thinking if there have been other suicides (or attempts) in your area.
Suicide Prevention Tips
Someone who talks about suicidal feelings or feels hopeless should be taken to a doctor or a mental health professional who can find out what is causing these feelings and help the person take steps toward recovering. Talking about suicide is a cry for help, so take it seriously. Stay with the person if you think they are in danger and urge them to talk to a medical professional who can help. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If the person is in the process of planning their death or actually attempting suicide, this is an emergency situation. Call 911 or take the person to the nearest emergency room. The doctors can evaluate their mental state and take the action needed to save their life. The person might be angry at you at first, but rest assured, they will be thankful later when the suicidal feelings go away and they are feeling better.
How You Can Help Spread Awareness
1. Attend a Suicide Prevention Event
Zack Snyder attended the suicide prevention walk in an effort to spread awareness of suicide prevention. You can do the same thing if there is a walk or a similar fundraiser in your area. Sign up, post about it on your social media accounts, and encourage your friends to join and do the same. Spreading awareness of the risk factors, the signs, and the help available for those who might be contemplating suicide is an excellent way to help.
2. Talk to Your Teen About Suicide
Also, if you have teenagers or are in contact with young people, talk to them about mental health issues. Having untreated mental health conditions can lead someone to consider or even follow through with suicide. Don’t think that asking about how people feel about suicide will put the idea in their heads; in fact, talking openly about it is a great deterrent. It shows people that someone cares and stresses the fact that there is help available.
3. Reach Out to Someone Who Needs Help
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your community who might be isolated or going through a tough time. Sometimes just knowing that someone is available to talk can make the difference between having their mental health issues treated and turning instead to suicide to eliminate the pain. If you know of someone who is shut in, who has recently lost their spouse or their job, or who is otherwise struggling, approach them and see if you can spend time with them. You can also read up on ways to help someone who is struggling with depression.
Knowing more about suicide and suicide prevention can reduce this epidemic. Talk to the people in your life about this important but difficult topic and don’t hesitate to reach out if you find yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.