Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a myth that talking about suicide with someone can put the idea into their head or trigger the act; being caring and listening with a non-judgemental ear is far more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it. Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds.
Taking a minute to reach out to someone can change the course of their life. Here are some practical things we can all do to prevent suicide.
- Practice good emotional hygiene. Just like we practice personal hygiene by taking showers and brushing our teeth, we also need to adopt habits to take care of our psychological health. This can include addressing emotional pain, maintaining your self-esteem and avoiding repetitive negative thoughts.
- Make time for friends and family. Loneliness and feelings of disconnectedness are serious threats to our mental health. Carve out enough time to regularly connect with a friend or family member, even if all you can manage is a phone call or FaceTime session.
- Make time for yourself. Just as we need time with friends, we also need time of solitude to be with our individual thoughts and feelings. Use your time alone to check in with yourself or reflect on a personal experience. Engage in activities that you enjoy doing alone, like gardening, reading, cooking or even going to the movies.
- Nourish your body with healthy food. Not only does eating healthy and nutrient-rich foods help keep your body in good working order, it can also positively affect your mood.
- Get enough sleep. Doctors recommend getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to help us perform optimally in our everyday lives.
- Move your body. To maintain your physical health, researchers recommend to keep your heart rate elevated for at least 150 minutes per week, or get 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
- Manage your stress. Stress is the body’s way of responding to the mental and physical demands of life. Identify your stressors and find solutions for the stressors that you can control.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to do anything in life alone. If you’re having trouble caring for yourself for any reason, reach out. Your primary care physician can provide referrals to therapists or other physicians that can address your concerns. Your family and friends can provide support and empathy.
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