As many organizations wrap up the celebration of Suicide Prevention Month in September, suicide prevention should remain at the forefront of our organizational mental health and wellness initiatives. Remember that suicide is a response to psychological and/or emotional pain that causes mental suffering. For many of those who lost their lives by suicide, it was a solution to an otherwise unresolved traumatic experience that relieved them of their pain.
As we continue to seek to understand suicide and self-harm, it is imperative not to look at behavior individually, but to explore and understand the individual’s experience and what led them to this type. of decision making. Seeking to understand the individual’s experience will give us insight into “why” it happened and “how” to not only mitigate the impact, but also to address the problem.
All behaviors begin with a thought that fuels an emotion that produces a behavior. This triadic relationship becomes a cycle that produces distortions on the traumatic experience. When the cycle continues uninterrupted, it can produce suicidal or self-harming behaviors.
The answers to suicide prevention lie in the individual’s traumatic experience, the cycle it creates, not in behavior. Any successful prevention strategy starts with understanding not only the impacts, but also the problem.
Did you know that “988” is the national three-digit telephone number to connect directly to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline? By calling or texting 988 you will be connected to mental health professionals with Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
By Dr. Donna Ferguson, Program Manager, Army CID Mental Health & Wellness