Wednesday is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is estimated that every 40 seconds, someone somewhere takes their life. Nebraska's suicide rate for those between the ages of 10 and 24 exceeds the national rate. It is the second leading cause of death for Nebraskans ages 15 through 19.
It takes more lives than homicide and war combined. Each year, more than 800,000 people die from suicide.
There are several outlets available locally for those who are having or know someone who is having suicidal thoughts. Community Alliance offers many services to help clients rehabilitate into society. The National Suicide Prevention Line is 1-800-273-TALK. The Safe Harbor Crisis Diversion Program offers assistance to adults with mental illness at 402-884-9044. The Boys Town National Hotline will answer all crisis calls at 1-800-448-3000.
Other agencies available to help are the Friendship Program (402-393-6911), Heartland Family Services (402-552-7400) and the Lasting Hope Recovery Center (402-717-HOPE).
Ebony Lowe was diagnosed with mental illness when she was 16 years old. During her sophomore year in college, she attempted suicide for the first time. Since then, she has had multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, but with the help of organizations like Community Alliance, it has now been five months since her last suicide attempt.
“It's never something that completely leaves your mind and it's something that I struggle with all the time, but now I know in my heart that suicide is not an option anymore and what it came down to is me having faith in God, having faith in myself, having other people have faith in me."
Ebony is now leading efforts to raise suicide awareness and help those suffering like she has. "Every suicide comment or ideation should be taken extremely seriously and that if someone even makes a comment that leads you to think that they are at risk of suicide, you need to find help as soon as possible."
An important step in reducing the suicide rate is understanding some of the warning signs. Talking about wanting to die or threats to kill oneself. Another red flag is looking for a way to kill oneself like searching online or buying a gun. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, changes in sleeping habits such as sleeping too little or too much. Displaying extreme mood swings and talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
“So many of our clients feel just very hopeless, feel there isn't anybody there, feel like there are no options,” says Day Rehabilitation Supervisor Sangeetha Youngman. “I feel like that's one of the biggest things when someone's feeling suicidal is they've gotten to that point where they feel like there's no options."