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Working Together to Prevent Suicide

Published in Behavioral Health Services, For the Health of It Author: Lisa Bershok, MSW, LICSW, Suicide Prevention Program Manager

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which includes National Suicide Prevention Awareness week, Sept. 8-14, and World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. This year’s theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.” The goal is to engage and empower ourselves and our communities in an effort to prevent suicidal behavior. How can we do this?

Learn the Signs

Suicide is currently the eighth leading cause of death in Minnesota. Every day in Minnesota, individuals experience stress, emotional pain and sometimes thoughts of suicide. It is important to learn how to recognize and respond to suicide by knowing the warning signs of suicide. These warning signs may be displayed through direct conversation, text message or social media. By recognizing the signs, knowing how to start the conversation, and where to turn for help, you have the power to make a difference.

Have a Conversation

Talking about suicide in an open and caring manner can help those who are thinking about suicide to connect with help and support. Find ways to engage the person with your concern and talk to him/her directly about suicide. For tips on how to start the conversation, words to use, and how to respond to the person, please explore Know How to Help on the “Take 5 to Save Lives” website. By letting the person know he/she is not alone, that you are there for him/her, can provide hope. Your willingness to listen and help can save a life.

Connect with Support

Be willing to help the person connect with support. You can help the person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or connect with a local county crisis hotline in Minnesota. You can connect them with local mental health services. If you are not sure where to start, contact your primary care provider for an appointment and help in locating resources in your community. However, if the person is exhibiting emergency warning signs, don’t leave him/her alone and call 911 or help get the person to a local emergency department for further evaluation.

It’s important to know that if you are concerned for someone in your life, but are not sure what to do, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or your local county crisis hotline, for help in deciding what the next steps should be. These are free, 24/7, and confidential support hotlines.

Recognize the Impact

CentraCare also would like to recognize and honor the impact suicide has on suicide attempt survivors and suicide loss survivors. Often, we do not know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, or after someone is recovering from a suicide attempt. If you care about a suicide loss survivor or a suicide attempt survivor, please read the linked resources to help guide the support you can provide them. If you are a suicide loss survivor or a suicide attempt survivor, these resources can help support you on your healing journey.

If you are reading this blog today and are struggling with your emotional or mental health or having thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. You have a suicide prevention community that is here for you. If you don’t feel you can talk to a family member, friend or mental health professional about how you are feeling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a county crisis line, or text “MN” to 741-741. You are not alone, we are here to support you.

Raise Awareness

Spread the word on social media, within your community, your workplace, your family and your friends. You can share the “Take 5 to Save Lives” Campaign on social media by visiting their website. Start a conversation about suicide with the people you care about. This will help them identify you as a safe person to talk to, if they ever feel like they are having an emotional crisis or thoughts of suicide. Download and share the apps below that can help people manage stress and provide help with coping with life stressors. Talk about ways to practice self-care. Avoid using stigmatizing language around mental health and suicide. The more we create open, direct conversations about suicide in our families, workplaces, schools and communities, the more opportunities we have to connect people to support before a suicide attempt.

If you are interested in learning more about suicide prevention, CentraCare’s Suicide Prevention Program Manager can provide training for your work, school or community group. Please contact Lisa Bershok at 320-251-2700, ext. 23793.

Additional Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text: “MN” to 741-741
MN County Crisis Hotline Search
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, then press 1
MN Farm & Rural Helpline: 1-833-600-2670 x 1
Serve & Protect Crisis Line: 615-373-8000

This blog post is not monitored. If you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Helpful Apps