Helen Ross McNabb Center educates the community on suicide prevention
With our youth headed back to school this fall, we need to take this time to remind ourselves to think. Think about how we speak to people. Think about the impact of our actions. Think about the lives that are lost every year, every day to suicide.
September is suicide prevention month and our friend Gayle Lodato at the Helen Ross McNabb Center took the time to educate us at The Pulse on what we as a community, what we as individuals can do to aid someone in need.
If you’re reading this magazine, we can safely assume you’ve finished a good bit of schooling in your day. Do you remember the social pressures of being a child? Do you remember what it was like to not fit in? To be picked on? To feel like you needed to make your family, friends, whoever, proud? Even as adults, pressure is all around us from family, work, continuing our educations. It’s a harsh world already so why don’t we do our best to comfort those who need it most?
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in individuals between 15-24, and in 2014, 945 people were lost to suicide, 49 of those being children between the ages of 10-19. Search for the warning signs and see what you can do to help. It may be that your daughter mentions a friend of hers at school acting distant or making idle threats. Or maybe you notice a coworker giving away his belongings, withdrawing from social contact and you don’t know whether or not you can help them. You can!
To start, listen to them. Don’t belittle their fears or worries. If they are at this point in considering suicide, they surely already feel belittled, pressured and alone. While we all want to promise “things will get better,” it’s a comment that to someone who feels things will never get better, is incredibly condescending. You don’t have to say anything at first, just listen. After you’ve heard their story, follow these five steps:
Engage. Don’t be afraid to talk to them openly and don’t be afraid to use the word suicide. Be mindful of their feelings, but if you feel they’re serious you must be upfront.
Assess. Find out whether or not they are actually serious and whether or not you need seek additional help. While you can be a friend, a preventer, and a listener, you are not a trained professional and sometimes the best thing to do is guide your friend to professional help.
Plan. Plan with them. Offer to help them seek professional help, don’t do it behind their back. If this person has trusted you enough to tell you how they feel, now is the time to strengthen that trust, not betray it.
Intervene. If you witness someone acting differently, someone who has gone through a significant change in their life, a death, a break-up, etc., approach them to see what you can do to ward off those thoughts or help them cope.
Follow up. Keep in touch with your friend. How are they doing after the fact? Don’t plan with them to help them find professional help and then abandon them. You were kind enough to help in the first place, be there for them after. Check in with them, hang out, just let them know that they weren’t alone before and they certainly aren’t now.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the follow emergency lines.
• National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
• Hearing Impaired Suicide Prevention TTY Line: 1-800-799-4-889 (TTY)
• Help Line in Chattanooga: 423-552-4636
• Volunteer Behavioral Health: 1-800-704-2651. Provides mobile crisis for adults
• Youth Villages Southeast Region: 1-866-791-9225. Provides mobile crisis for children and adolescents
[Buy a baked avocado at Chattanooga restaurant FIVE in the month of September and a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Helen Ross McNabb Center]