Suicide Awareness Week | Why conversations are crucial

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) It is a fact: suicide is preventable. So, what can be done now to protect your own mental health and the health of those around you before a progression to suicide happens behind closed doors?

September marks National Suicide Prevention Month, and the week of Sept. 6 marks Suicide Prevention Week. It’s a time to shine a spotlight on a dark corner, emphasizing awareness, conversations, and resources.

“Suicide is something that thrives in darkness and in secrecy. If we can talk about it and bring it to light we are more likely to be able to help the people who need help,” said Molley Colley with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

In Tennessee, 1159 people died by suicide in 2018. Nationwide, 10.7 million adults have thoughts of suicide every year. It is important to reach out to the people in your life who you think might be struggling. It all starts with one conversation.

“The first thing you are going to want to do is let the person know you are there for them and don’t be judgmental. Let them know they can talk to you about this topic, even though it is difficult. And definitely don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are suicidal,” said Colley.

What if you are suicidal yourself?

“Don’t give up. Have hope. Things can get better, there is help out there. Talk to someone and trust that things will get better,” said Colley.

The Tennessee Crisis Line is available to call at 855-CRISIS-1. You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Professionals stress that it is so important to reach out for help if you are struggling or considering suicide. Colley says there are some misconceptions and a stigma surrounding reaching out to your loved ones to make sure they are okay.

“Sometimes you hear that asking someone about suicide can plant the idea in their head or that it could make someone angry. What the research shows in most cases is asking someone about suicide will actually lower the risk of suicide and lower the person’s anxiety. It can help them feel more connected, like they can talk to you,” said Colley.

How do you know if someone is considering suicide? You won’t always; but there are often warning signs.

Those include:

  • Talking about suicide, death, and/or having no reason to live
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Withdrawal from friends and/or social activities
  • Experience of a recent severe loss (especially a relationship) or the threat of a significant loss
  • Experience or fear of a situation of humiliation or failure
  • Drastic changes in behavior
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.

Click here for more warning signs.

Visit the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network website for more resources.

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