All of us can play a role in suicide prevention
Starting a conversation about suicide may be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life. But knowing the gravity of the situation, our ability to reach out to someone who may be contemplating suicide is critical and may make all the difference in the outcome. Helping them understand they are not alone, that depression is normal and treatable, and that help is available are important parts of addressing this issue with a friend or family member.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death today in the U.S. for people ages 10 to 34. According to a recent article by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the only real way to know if someone is at risk is to ask. For All Seasons is promoting a community campaign to “ASK, LISTEN, and SHARE” as we recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Risk factors for suicide
Although there is no single cause for suicide, depression that is undiagnosed or untreated is the most common condition associated with suicide. Suicide often occurs when life stressors and health issues converge, leaving some people experiencing hopelessness and despair.
Warning signs of suicide
A change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors may be warning signs of suicidal thoughts, especially if related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say, what they do, or sudden mood changes.
Suicide prevention tips
We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Some tips for dealing with someone who is considering suicide, are:
Be proactive: There are times when you notice that something is off for a friend or family member. Take note of changes in talk, behavior, and mood. Pay attention to your gut.
Talk about it. Start a conversation in a private safe space about how that person is doing. Listen to their story. Focus on showing your support and compassion. Tell them you care about them. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems, or giving advice. You don’t have to have all the answers. Be direct. Research shows that asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts will not put the idea into their mind.
Reduce access to means of self-harm. A suicidal crisis is temporary and often lasts minutes. Consider what items are a danger to someone who could be suicidal. Remove and/or lock up these items.
Get Help. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist or a crisis line and/or mental health services right away. Build in choice. Stay with the person until they have received support.
Follow Up. Continue to check in regularly and be a source of understanding and support.
One of the most important pieces of advice is not to wait for the “perfect moment” to ask about suicide; that moment will never come. Ask anyway. Because suicide is too important to keep secret.
In the spring of 2017, Amy Haines and Richard Marks’ Dock Street Foundation invited 40 representatives from several Talbot County service agencies and educational institutions to board a bus bound for NYC to see Ben Platt and the cast of “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway. Both Haines and Marks had seen the play and felt it would be helpful if shared with our local providers of care to increase their knowledge about suicide.
“I realized after returning from the show that Richard and Amy’s gift could last much more than just one day. I thought it offered an opportunity to reach students and those in the community in the same way that the show reached everyone on the trip that day. That year, we decided to begin an annual campaign and start a conversation about suicide prevention in our community,” Beth Anne Langrell shares.
This year, as a nod to the “Dear Evan Hansen” movie that recently came out in theaters nationally, For All Season’s Suicide Prevention Campaign will feature the song, “You Will Be Found “on October 7 on Facebook, featuring local singers and community members. In addition, the agency will sponsor “Dear Evan Hansen” movie tickets for music and theater students at Easton High School so that they can attend the movie at Premier Cinemas in Easton. A website with a movie discussion guide for “Dear Evan Hansen,” and suicide prevention resources have been created by For All Seasons to help community members navigate difficult conversations about the topics in the film including anxiety, social isolation, and suicide. Postcards with instructions on how to access this website are available at the theater for movie-goers to pick up after the film. The website also offers valuable information to any community member regardless of whether they have seen the movie. Visit www.nomatterwhatyoumatter.org.
Additionally, handouts on suicide prevention will be distributed to Talbot County businesses so they can share this important information with clients and visitors.
Anyone needing help can contact For All Seasons 24/7 at 410-822-1018 or the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: Text: 410-829-6143 Toll-Free: 800-310-7273 | English:410-820-5600 | Spanish: 410-829-6143. Persons may also call Maryland Crisis Connect 24/7 – Dial 211 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For further information about For All Seasons activities related to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, visit forallseasonsinc.org.
For All Seasons provides the highest level of mental health and victim services to children, adults and families across the Mid-Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy and 24-hour crisis hotlines.