The subject matter used to be taboo, but that’s no longer the case.

There is increasing discussion these days about suicide, and how to prevent it.

Shauna Moses, vice president of public affairs and member services for the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, said as we mark Suicide Prevention Awareness month in September, “we’re trying to save as many lives as possible and prevent people from getting to the point where they are actively considering suicide.”

She said New Jersey has one of the lowest suicide rates in the nation, but it’s still way too high.

“On average, 2.2 New Jersey residents die by suicide every day, and there’s at least five in-patient hospitalizations or emergency room visits due to non-fatal suicide attempts," she said. "It’s definitely at the crisis point.”

She suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those 15 to 24, and the fourth-leading cause among those age 35 to 44.

Moses said to help prevent suicide, it’s critically important to recognize warning signs that someone could be contemplating taking his or her own life.

“If someone is talking about wanting to kill themselves, wishing they were never born, saying they have no reason to live, feeling helpless, feeling that they are a burden to others, those are red flags," she said.

She said another warning sign is a change in behavior.

“Someone who loses interest in activities they had been enjoying such as sports, going to concerts, being with family and friends, so they’re withdrawing, they’re isolating," Moses said.

Big changes in eating and sleeping habits are more signs of possible trouble, along with an increase in anxiety or irritability.

Moses said if you notice any of these changes in a friend or loved one, talk with that person and ask if they’re thinking about hurting themselves or ending their life.

She stressed asking the question does not put the thought of suicide in someone’s mind if they’re not already thinking about it — “it gives them permission or that opportunity to open and get the help that they need.”

She pointed out if someone is having a serious problem “it’s important to not leave that person alone and encourage them to get help, and help them to get help, whether it’s calling a suicide prevention hotline with them or going to a counseling center.”

“The more people know about how to recognize the risks and the warning signs and the steps to take, the much more likely we are to keep people alive," she said.

The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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