John can’t stop worrying. He’s lost his job and his retirement savings has taken a financial hit. His mortgage rates are increasing and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make this month’s payment. He has two children and a wife who are relying on him. He’s supposed to be the breadwinner, the man of the house, but lately he’s been so depressed he can’t even seem to get out of bed. The bills are piling up on the kitchen table and his wife can’t find any work to get them through this tough time. He drinks to numb the pain but the alcohol just makes him angrier and he’s afraid he’s going to take it out on his family. Sometimes John thinks he’s become so much of a burden to his family it might be better if he wasn’t even here anymore. John wants help, but he doesn’t know where to turn. His world is crumbling around him and he can’t escape. John just doesn’t know what to do.

Surviving times of crisis

The recent economic downturn has ignited a great deal of stress for many Americans. Fears about foreclosure or not being able to provide for one’s family, or one’s family’s future, are very real concerns. The loss of one’s traditional role, such as the family’s financial backbone, can leave people vulnerable to extreme depression. However, even the worst financial crisis is manageable, and thoughts of suicide are serious red flags that professional help is needed.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2007, accounting for 32,439 deaths. Many people feel hopeless when faced with an insurmountable crisis and turn to suicide as a desperate way to alleviate their pain. By reaching out and getting help, you can survive this difficult time.

• Family, friends and work colleagues can offer support, if not a monetary solution to your current economic crisis.

• Many workplaces have employee assistance counselors that are available free of charge and can refer you to financial counseling resources.

• Credit consolidation services can help you manage your credit card debts.

• The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a list of approved housing counseling agencies that can help you refinance your mortgage to a manageable level.

If suicide consumes your thoughts, it is important to keep yourself safe and share your feelings with a friend, family member or partner. If such avenues are unsuccessful, or if you feel like more help is needed, talking to a professional, such as a psychologist, is crucial. Remember, what you are going through is temporary, and while your current situation seems inescapable, it will not always be so bad. Breaking time down into manageable chunks — concentrating on getting through the next hour, the next day, the next week — will help you deal with your sense of desperation until you are able to work with a licensed professional.

If you feel at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255). This call is free and accessible 24 hours a day, every day. The service is available to anyone and all calls are confidential. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about.

If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. If he or she will not seek help, call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.