September is a very important month. Not only are we able to recognize and celebrate Recovery but we also are able to educate and provide resources for Suicide prevention. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline operates 24/7. The number to call is 1-800-273-8255
September is Suicide Prevention and National Recovery Month. The Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition and Southwest Counseling Service would like to take this opportunity to address suicide and how any one person can help play a role in preventing suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hosts a campaign called “#BeThe1To”. BeThe1To has a simplified set of steps that any person can follow as an easy way to check in on your friends and provide support to those who may be experiencing depression, anxiety or another kind of mental illness.
“Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide, may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.” There is a lot of stigma surrounding suicide. Many people believe that if you talk about it will put the idea of suicide in someone’s head. However, the BeThe1To campaign is designed to break that stigma of asking someone if they are thinking about suicide. If someone who is contemplating suicide is asked if they are thinking about suicide and they respond that they are then you are able to get them the help and resources that they might need. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. The way in which you ask someone if they are thinking about suicide an also be crucial. You want to be sensitive and informed when you ask the question “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Be direct and do not attach any shame, blame, or guilt to your question. An example of how NOT to ask would be phrased as follows; “You’re not thinking about killing yourself are you?” This version is a negatively phrased question and could make someone who is thinking about suicide respond differently than how they may feel.
- Be There
“Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.” The key to “being there” has more to do with being mentally and emotionally present than physically, however, the physical aspect can be just as important. Judgment is also a large factor that may deter one from providing additional information about their mental state. When we ask questions in order to provide support, suspending all judgment will allow for the other person to open up and share. Try using open-ended questions to allow that person to expand on any moods, feelings, or needs. In turn, this will allow you to provide them with the help, support, and resources that they need. Another thing to think about when we are actively being there is our body language. We must make sure that we are using comfortable language and body positioning to help that person feel safe and welcomed.
- Keep Them Safe
“A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.” Keeping a person safe from lethal methods could mean locking up medications, and firearms. However, if you are speaking to someone who has mentioned that they have a plan and a means by which they will execute a plan, you may need to adjust how you plan on keeping them safe. Never hesitate to call 911 if you are concerned for your own, or that person’s health and safety.
- Help Them Stay Connected
“Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness.” Having a person of support or support system is crucial to receiving help when you may need it. Identifying even just one person who is able to help could make the difference between life and death. Even more so for adolescents. After School activities, programs, and clubs can help children feel included and supported by other members while outside of the home. This type of release for children is beneficial and necessary for mental and emotional health. In addition, if a child is able to identify a person of support, this can also decrease the likelihood that a child will end up in danger. It is up to the discretion of the youth to identify a trusted person that they have built a relationship. Not all children will view or have a parent who can be their trusted adult, so this person can also be another family member, sibling, coach, teacher, or medical/mental health provider.
- “Studies have shown that in brief, low cost intervention, and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after the have been discharged from hospitals or care services.” This part of the four steps is so crucial because without a follow up you might be unintentionally leaving an at risk person feeling stranded and afraid to ask for help all over again. The follow up stage is just as important as the initial “be there” stage. For someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge it is not always a straight line. It can feel cyclical and they may experience bouts of highs and lows. As a person of support you should continue to check in and provide support within your means. If you know that this person may need additional care that you are unable to provide, you can refer them to another person that they identify as a support or you can refer them to medical services and professional care.
For more information on the BeThe1To Campaign visit: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/promote-national-suicide-prevention-month/
The Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition and Southwest Counseling Service have also worked together to be able to provide FREE community training for suicide prevention. The first training option is called QPR. QPR stands for Question Persuade and Refer. This training has an online/virtual option and has varying duration times for the specific courses. QPR has specific training for healthcare providers, first responders, veterans, community members, parents, and more! The second training option is called Mental Health First Aid or MHFA. MHFA can be offered online/virtual or in person. This course is a little bit long but varies from 5-8 hours. The comprehensive material combines traditional first aid but is applied to one’s mental health. This course will teach you how to assess and evaluate someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. For additional information on either of these FREE training contact Shelby Gordon your local Community Prevention Specialist. She can be reached at sweetwaterco[email protected] or 307-352-6677.
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