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Dial Help offers suicide prevention resources, advice

Suicide isn’t exactly a comfortable topic to talk about — but the more we do, the more hope there is for the people in our communities who are struggling. They may be depressed; dealing with an illness, abuse or addiction; or looking for an escape from their pain. The reasons vary, but there’s one thing they all have in common: suicide is preventable. And we can all play a part.

“The most important thing is getting that person some help,” said Krissy Putz, assistant director at Dial Help. “If you’re not sure how to support them, reach out to Dial Help and we can talk you through how to start this conversation with someone.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, reach out to Dial Help 24/7 by calling 906-482-HELP (or toll-free 1-800-562-7622), texting 35NEEDS (906-356-3337), or chatting online at www.dialhelp.org.

Signs that someone is suicidal can vary from person to person. Listen to your instincts if something seems off. Common warning signs include:

— Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

— Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

— Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

— Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

— Talking about being a burden to others

— Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

— Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

— Sleeping too little or too much

— Withdrawing or isolating themselves

— Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

— Extreme mood swings

— A sudden change to positive/euphoric mood while giving things away or making similar arrangements

Dial Help also offers this advice:

The biggest way you can help is by asking directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” You may have to check a couple times to get at how they’re really feeling, because people with suicidal thoughts may be embarrassed or afraid. Try to use a calm, non-judgmental voice and keep eye contact. Remember, research has shown that asking someone if they are suicidal will not cause them to kill themselves.

Let the person know that it’s safe to talk to you about suicide. Ask what’s going on that has them thinking about killing themselves, then just listen. Be empathetic rather than turning the conversation to yourself and your experiences. Remember, something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you can be extremely difficult for someone else to deal with. Just let this person get their emotions off their chest. Above all, don’t judge them. It takes a lot of courage to talk about feeling suicidal, and feeling judged is a big reason why people keep those feelings inside.

Connecting to help is a good next step. It’s common for someone thinking about suicide to ask that you keep it a secret. Explain that suicide is a deadly secret, and they need plenty of support. Help them identify at least one other person to tell, and go with them to talk to the person, or help them make the phone call. You can also provide the person contact information for hotlines to reach out to. If they’re nervous about contacting a crisis line, offer to sit with them while they do. If you feel that someone is in immediate danger of killing themselves, take them to the hospital or contact the police for assistance.

If possible, check in with the person in the days and weeks after they disclose they’ve been thinking about suicide. Let them know that you care and see how they’re doing. Evidence has shown that such follow-up support can make a real difference in helping a suicidal person stay alive.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself too — Dial Help’s crisis line is available to help you deal with the heavy feelings that can go along with these conversations.

There are some special considerations to keep in mind for young people. Youth are particularly vulnerable to suicide due to major transitions and significant cognitive, mental, emotional, and social change. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth age 15-24, and approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year. If someone under the age of 18 discloses that they are suicidal, make sure to tell the youth’s parent or guardian.

Dial Help also has programs and resources that can provide safety long-term. Community members and professionals who want to get involved in suicide prevention locally can reach out to their Communities That Care coalition at www.upctc.com. Professionals can network and find information for the Upper Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition at www.dialhelp.org/upscp.

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