You matter. A simple concept that carries a large impact. When is the last time you have said to yourself or someone else, “You matter?” Have you ever imagined what it might feel like to someone who truly believes they do not matter to be reminded simply that they do?
The year 2020 proved to be extremely difficult for many. The year 2021 is well on its way to being a contender for another difficult 12 months. We know it is important to take care of others and ourselves. It seems we find that concept being set aside or even forgotten, repeatedly. Early data and statistics are showing suicide rates have dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time in years, but we should be cautious about this information. Experts have said one reason for this is people tend to rally around each other during times of crisis. In addition, people are more likely to seek mental health services during these times. However, according to the CDC, suicide is still the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 9th leading cause of death in the state of Iowa. In Iowa, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34. So what do we do? How do we help? How do we get others and maybe even ourselves to believe they matter?
Mental health providers are always assessing for changes that indicate the possibility of suicidal ideation. In reality, anyone can recognize the signs of suicide to prevent any further action. Emotional markers can include: feeling depressed, lack of interest in activities once enjoyed, irritability, anger, anxiety, mood swings. Verbal markers can include talking about: killing themselves, their life having no purpose, feeling like a burden, feeling stuck, not wanting to exist. Behavioral markers can include: isolating from others, giving away possessions, acting recklessly, increased aggression, increased drug/alcohol use, gathering materials (weapons or pills).
If you know someone who is experiencing one or several of these markers, it is important to just be up front and ask them, “Are you thinking about suicide?” It is a difficult question to ask. An uncomfortable one to say the least—but it can truly change a life, because this question shows someone you think they matter. They DO matter. You matter. We all do.
If a friend, family member or co-worker is going through a mental crisis or having thoughts of suicide, there are steps you can take:
- Your Life Iowa – 24/7 crisis support in the state of Iowa (call, text, or live-chat)
- Call 1-855-581-8111 or text 1-855-895-8398
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Call 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line
- Text 741741 for crisis help
Tawny Schafbuch graduated from St. Ambrose University with her Masters in Social Work in 2013. She is a licensed Independent Social Worker in the state of Iowa. Tawny is a therapist and school based program supervisor at Tanager Place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has worked in mental health/school system for nearly 9 years.