To raise awareness, the month of September is recognized as National Suicide Awareness Month. It is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly stigmatized topic. Its mission is to bring awareness to suicide and to prevent it.
Suicide is an important subject matter we should be discussing more within the legal profession. According to the Center for Disease Control, lawyers rank fourth in the rate of suicide in terms of professions and have six times the suicide rate as the general population. In 2016, the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Study revealed 11% of lawyers reporting having suicidal thoughts at some point during their legal career. According to the Survey on Law Student Well-Being conducted that same year, 6% of law students reported having serious suicidal thoughts in the past year.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, the warning signs of acute suicide risk include:
- Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
- Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
It is important to note these warning signs are not always communicated directly or outwardly.
Additional warning signs include:
- Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
- No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Withdrawal from friends, family and society
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Dramatic mood changes
- Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets
If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, please visit bethe1to.com for more information on helping someone in crisis. If you have had thoughts of suicide, please seek help by calling KALAP for immediate assistance or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.