Suicide Prevention: What Can I do to Help?
FROM CARRIE KUBACKI, HEALTH & WELL-BEING EDUCATOR UW-MADISON DIVISION OF EXTENSION, LANGLADE COUNTY
Since May is Mental Health Month, it is an appropriate time to talk about suicide prevention. Some people may feel that suicide is not a big issue because they do not know anyone personally who has made an attempt or died by suicide. However, national and state statistics show otherwise.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death in Wisconsin for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. On average, one person dies by suicide every 10 hours in Wisconsin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reported an increase of over 30% in suicide rates from 1999-2016. The effects of the pandemic on suicide are still not known and stigma continues to be an obstacle for people who need help.
Everyone can help to prevent suicide. The first step is to educate ourselves on the potential warning signs of suicide. The more warning signs an individual exhibits, the greater the concern.
- Changes in sleep patterns or appetite
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawal from family, friends and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Increased risk taking and impulsive behavior
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Collecting means to make an attempt (saving pills or buying a weapon)
- Giving away favorite possessions
- Saying goodbye to loved ones
If you do notice warning signs, reach out to the person for support. Show that you care and are concerned about them and listen to them without judgment. It is also important to ask the question directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” If you are unable to ask the question yourself, find someone else who can.
Make yourself aware of national crisis support websites and crisis lines—not just for another person who may be suicidal, but also for yourself if you need to get information, advice and support. Finally, if you feel someone may be in immediate danger of suicide, do not leave that person alone. Contact 9-1-1 or another emergency agency that can intervene immediately and keep the person safe.
The more quickly we can provide a potentially suicidal person with support, resources and help, the greater the chances of recovery. UW-Madison Division of Extension Langlade County is offering a free, in-person suicide prevention training called “Question, Persuade, Refer” which trains individuals to identify the warning signs of suicide and practices the steps to intervene with a potentially suicidal person. The training will be held at the Antigo Public Library on May 26 from 4:30 – 5:30 pm. Please call (715) 627-6236 to register.
For more information about suicide prevention or to get help for you or someone else, please contact the following:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Center for Suicide Awareness Hopeline: Text “HOPE” to 741741 or visit https://centerforsuicideawareness.org/.