Suicide Prevention Week – Help for the Hard of Hearing
There are many resources to help those who are depressed or suicidal address those feelings and get the assistance they need. But if you or someone you know has hearing loss and experiences such thoughts, it can feel as if you are alone and that there’s no way out. Fortunately, there are several options for people with hearing loss in crisis to connect with those who can help.
When hearing loss leads to depression
The simple fact of not hearing as well as you used to and missing out on important conversations and the background sounds of life can lead to feeling of sadness. But that’s just one of the ways hearing loss can cause depression. Constantly missing out on conversations or asking people to repeat themselves can be frustrating and exhausting. Over time, people with hearing loss may find it easier to skip social gatherings altogether.
At the same time, others who don’t understand the effects of hearing loss may accuse you of not listening or leave you out of conversations. All these things can increase feelings of isolation and the risk of depression.
Of course, depression and suicidal thoughts can be totally unrelated to one’s hearing loss. Factors involving personal relationships, financial status, stress at work or school, and others can lead to emotional distress and feelings of despair. Whatever the cause may be, ensuring access to appropriate assistance for all can help to prevent suicide.
Different ways to get help
There are many crisis centers around the country equipped to counsel people with suicidal thoughts. However, the easiest way to contact these centers—over the phone—can present difficulties for the deaf and hard of hearing and make them feel that help is impossible. But there are still ways to get help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a toll-free hotline available 24/7 to help those in distress. It also offers services specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing. For instance, you can access a live, text-based chat from the organization’s website. Alternately, if using a TTY device, dial 800-799-4889 so you can speak with a counselor and have their responses translated into text.
The organization also offers help for veterans with hearing loss through its Veterans Crisis Line. In addition to voice calls and online chat, veterans with hearing loss can connect with a responder via text message, by sending a text to 838255.
It’s important to note that the services of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline aren’t just for individuals in emotional distress; anyone can call if they think a relative or friend may be suicidal. If you have hearing loss and are worried about someone in your life, the above methods can help you find the resources to assist your loved one.
As hearing loss continues to affect more people each year, it’s crucial that we all raise awareness of the condition and its effects on mental health. Most importantly, knowing where to turn in times of crisis can help anyone get the help they need, regardless of hearing ability.