The purpose of this article is not to frighten our community or to suggest that BFRBs cause suicidal thoughts or actions. But we cannot ignore the presence of co-existing conditions, such as depression and anxiety, that make treatment more complex. When hope is lost, some see suicide as a viable option.
Roughly 48,000 people die by suicide every year in the US, and among young persons (ages 15 -24), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. Depression is the psychiatric condition most linked to suicide and is present in at least 50% of all completed suicides. 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition. We know through research that there is a higher incidence of depression in adults with a BFRB. Even more linked to suicide than depression is hopelessness, a state in which one believes that the intolerable, searing pain that they are experiencing will not get better. During our current circumstances with Covid-19, feelings of isolation and hopelessness have increased.
If you or your loved one struggle with feelings of sadness or hopelessness, crying spells, loss of appetite or energy, hear voices or have thoughts of wanting to die, it is critical to get help immediately.
While we may not have great medications for BFRBs, we do have excellent psychotherapy and medications for depression and anxiety. Sometimes a person with depression does not even realize how bad she feels, and the depression is better observed by those around her. If you have any of these feelings or suspect that your child or loved one does, call your physician, psychiatrist, or therapist and voice your concerns. People with depression often do not want to burden others and may see suicide as a way to take the "burden" off of their loved ones. Unfortunately, the burden in the aftermath of a suicide is far greater on the family and loved ones than the burden of depression or a BFRB could ever be.
For those who face grief and agony in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one (individuals termed "suicide survivors"), know that you too are not alone. In the United States, it is the unfortunate reality that "survivors" number well in the millions. We are too frequently faced with this devastating type of loss. A death by suicide is often shocking and unexpected, and the grief that occurs in its' aftermath may be very intense, complex, and long-lasting. Some helpful online resources for survivors include Survivors of Suicide (survivorsofsuicide.com) and The Link Counseling Center (thelink.org).
TLC has made great progress educating the public and professionals alike about the importance of treating BFRBs and potentially severe co-existing conditions. Even with this advancement, sufferers can still struggle mightily. If you or a loved one is experiencing serious depression please make contact with the resources mentioned above. Even in your darkest hour, remember you are not alone.
If you or your loved one have depression and suicidal thinking is present, please:
Call or text: 988 to speak with a trained counselor in the Lifeline Network
988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), and is now active across the United States.
When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.
The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.
The Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers has been in operation since 2005, and has been proven to be effective. It’s the counselors at these local crisis centers who answer the contacts the Lifeline receives every day. Numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor.
Call 911 or your local Crisis Hotline.
Other Resources for Support:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): afsp.org
CDC National HIV and AIDS Hotline
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
Disaster Distress Helpline Online Peer Support Communities
Disaster Distress Helpline Videophone for American Sign Language Users (PDF, 180KB)
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Grad Crisis Line
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline
Veterans Crisis Line
988, then PRESS 1