Learn more about suicide, and how to support your health and wellness
Each person is faced with different and unique mental health challenges, and develops individual coping and wellness mechanisms that fit their needs. Your Life Iowa is a resource to help you find what works for you, and to support you in helping others you may be concerned about.
Take the myths and facts quiz to learn about some common perceptions about suicide. There are many risk and protective factors that affect suicide risk identified in the "Avoid Risks" section. See the self-care checklist for some suggestions on ways to promote mental health. These are just some suggestions; each person will have different self-care actions that work for them and may not work for others.
Read on to learn more.
Myth. The fact that you are asking will in many cases be the opportunity that individual needs to open up about their feelings. If someone is not suicidal, asking won’t insult them or make them suicidal, and they can inform you that they are not suicidal.
- Alcohol and substance use, and gambling disorders
- Barriers to accessing healthcare, including substance use disorders and mental health treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life, via the media and via the internet)
- Family history of suicide
- Family history of child maltreatment
- Feelings of hopelessness
- History of trauma or abuse
- Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
- Lack of social support
- Local suicide clusters
- Loss (relationships, social, work or financial)
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
- Major physical illness
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Stigma and perceived stigma associated with asking for help
Protective factors buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior. Protective factors have not been studied as extensively or rigorously as risk factors. Identifying and understanding protective factors are, however, equally as important as researching risk factors.
- Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
- Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support
- Family and community support (connectedness)
- Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
- Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation
- Restricted access to lethal means when someone is feeling suicidal
- Effective communication about suicide, including responsible reporting and health promotion
- Take a walk outside
- Drink a glass of water
- Make yourself a meal that you enjoy
- Re-read one of your all-time favorite books
- Give someone a compliment – and then compliment yourself too
- Play with a pet
- Listen to a favorite music play list
- Take a hot shower or bath
- It is okay to say no - give yourself permission to choose how you spend your time, resources or energy
- Think about 10 things you are thankful for
- A couple times a day spend a few minutes stretching and breathing deeply.
- Reach out to a trusted friend or family member
- Take a short break for coffee or tea
- Start on a project you have been wanting to begin for a while
- Watch your favorite movie
- Write yourself a letter about a few things that are bothering you - then throw it away
- Treat yourself to dinner
- Call us at Your Life Iowa
Support and assistance is available through Live Chat, by calling (855) 581-8111, or by texting (855) 895-8398.
Suicide contagion, or "copycat suicide," can happen. Traditional and social media have a role to play in helping prevent suicide, by the way they report on suicide. Please see these responsible reporting guidelines for tips on covering suicide.
- Inform the audience of the event without sensationalism.
- When reporting about a person who died from suicide, use pictures from school or a job. It is also important to include local crisis logos and phone numbers.
- Avoid describing recent suicides with strong descriptive language such as “epidemic” or “drastic increase.” Instead use words such as “rise” or “higher.”
- Most people show warning signs – deaths by suicide are not inexplicable.
- Suicide is a public health issue; seek the input of suicide prevention experts when reporting.
You can never have too much support. Especially when you’re facing a problem with alcohol or drug use, gambling, suicidal thoughts or mental health challenges. That’s why Your Life Iowa created our supportive text messaging program. So you can sign up to receive messages designed to provide you encouragement, no matter what you may be facing.
Brain injuries are often a multi-occurring condition with thoughts of suicide. Screening for brain injury is a best practice when responding to, and/or planning clinical and community-based responses for clients in health, community, and corrections services. Brain injury screening tools can provide a brief assessment of a person's exposure to brain injury, but do not provide a diagnosis or indicate an absence of a brain injury. Learn more with the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa.
Want to find help on your own?
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