Suicide Prevention Month

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Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life. Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention and have informed resources which are now readily available. People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy. Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address, accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act.

Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it. We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities - seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.

The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.

• Take a minute to notice what is going on with you, your family, your friends and your colleagues.
• Take a minute to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different.
• Take a minute to find out what help is available for both you and others.

Many reputable resources are available to assist people in reaching out to individuals at risk of suicide.

RUOK?
This conversation movement endeavors to inspire others to help break the silence and ask ‘are you ok?’ to support someone struggling with some simple steps that could change a life. https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask

Mental Health First Aid
This evidence-based, internationally-recognized course teaches participants the framework of communication, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person towards appropriate treatment and other supportive help.
www.mhfa.com.au/research/mhfa-course-evaluations

Take 5 to Save Lives
This campaign encourages everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day and complete five action items:
1. Learn the warning signs
2. Do your part
3. Practice self-care
4. Reach out
5. Spread the word
www.take5tosavelives.org

#YouCanTalk
This campaign is about giving people the confidence to have the conversation by connecting them with resources to support them. The take home message is that you don’t have to be a clinician, GP or nurse to check in with the person whom you are concerned about. If you or someone you know are in crisis call the local crisis care # 937-224-4646, Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255),  or the Crisis Text Line 741-741

Other resources at International Association for Suicide Prevention and World Health Organization

https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/

Beth Ewing