Pet therapy can make all the difference to a person struggling with various forms of trauma, and National Suicide Prevention Week is shining a light on the importance of an animal bond.
Each year, more than 44,000 Americans die by suicide, which averages to about 121 people per day. Despite being the 10th largest cause of death in the United States, suicide is rarely talked about, but National Suicide Prevention Week intends to start the conversation and hopefully save lives through suicide prevention.
Because suicidal thoughts and fantasies occur in people who feel isolated and alone, inviting pet therapy into the discourse is one way mental health advocates are working to reduce the rate.
Johnnie June tells her story to the Huffington Post in a video that describes what living with depression is like for her, and how her pet Corgi helps her when those dark days feel almost too much to bear.
While no one person, pet, or even organization can prevent suicide alone, taking comfort in the presence of a pet can greatly improve the well-being of someone struggling with suicidal depression. Dogs, in particular, are known to reduce anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression, and encourage their caretakers to step outdoors for even a few minutes, which can sometimes feel nearly impossible for someone suffering from clinical depression.
Caring for an animal has also been shown to improve self-esteem, physical health, and socialization for both the person and their furry friend. A recent study showed that having a dog can increase time spent outside during the winter months by 30 minutes, an especially important aspect to consider during a time of year when the days are shorter, and seasonal depression can kick in.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Has your pet helped you through some tough times? Let us know in the comments section below!
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