ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- As Suicide Prevention Awareness Month comes to a close, Elmira Psychiatric Center is helping the public understand and recognize the red flags of someone who may be at risk of taking their life.

According to David Putney, Executive Director of Elmira Psychiatric Center, mental health illnesses -- such as depression, severe anxiety and traumatic history -- are one of the main factors that trigger suicidal thoughts.

"If someone has a diagnosed mental health condition, you might see some of those symptoms increase or decrease," he said. "For example, someone might be sleeping more or less. They could be eating more or less. You could see higher levels of anxiety, restlessness or irritability."

Other factors that relate to psychiatric and mental health-related conditions include a lack of connection or a spiritual component. If someone feels hopeless or helpless, they may start to withdraw more than usual.

"You might see them starting to give things away," Putney said. "If any of us feel disconnected from the world, our community [or] the ones we love, that could potentially increase rates and risk for suicide."

Another major risk factor to be aware of, Putney added, is a person's age and gender.

"Right now we've seen a rapid increase [of] Latina girls and young women under the age of 21," he said. "[We've also seen an increase in] African American boys under the age 12, which is just absolutely heartbreaking. Overall, though, males tend to suicide at a rate one-and-a-half times greater than females."

If a friend, family member or colleague exhibits any of these warning signs, Putney said the best way to take action is to approach the person directly about the situation.

"There's been this pervasive myth [that] we've been fighting really hard to get rid of...which is if you ask someone if they're thinking about suicide that that can actually increase their risk of suicide," he said. "It cannot. It actually helps people be able to talk about what's troubling them. There's also this idea that you should just say, 'Well, are you trying to kill yourself?' It's better just to ask someone if they're contemplating or if they have a plan for suicide. When you do that, they're more likely to talk with you, and you can offer them hope, help and some resources that can really get them on a better track."

Another resource designed specifically to help someone with harmful and suicidal thoughts is the new '988' Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which debuted in July. Those who call or text the number will be provided with different forms of suicide and crisis support

Elmira Psychiatric Center additionally offers multiple resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts. Services include outpatient treatment services, inpatient services, education and support, mobile integration teams and care management. For more information on the services provided at Elmira Psychiatric Center, head to the center's website here.