We all can help to prevent suicide

The Sheridan Press, from the Wyoming News Exchange


nger. Stress. Sadness. Frustration. The feelings likely sound familiar to many these days. Global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather, wildfires and national and international politics have created a sense of urgency and panic among many.

Things seem so hard, in fact, Steve Burns — the host of the popular TV show “Blue’s Clues” — went online to try and soothe the world, millennials in particular. Since the video was posted, it has been watched more than 36 million times.

Everyone, it seems, needs a little help these days.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and as the state with one of the highest suicide rates in the country, there’s plenty to work on. The message for this year’s awareness campaign is #BeThe1To, which focuses on efforts we all can take to prevent suicide.

We all can learn the risk factors for suicide. They include:

• Previous suicide attempt(s)

• A history of suicide in the family

• Substance misuse

• Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)

• Access to lethal means (e.g., keeping firearms in the home)

• Losses and other events (for example, the breakup of a relationship or a death, academic failures, legal difficulties, financial difficulties, bullying)

• History of trauma or abuse

• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain

• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others

We can also look for warning signs:

• Often talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless

• Expressions of having no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life; saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out.”

• Increased alcohol and/or drug misuse

• Withdrawal from friends, family and community

• Reckless behavior or more risky activities, seemingly without thinking

• Dramatic mood changes

• Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others

One of the biggest barriers to helping people is the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. There is plenty everyone can do, though, to help those struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts.

If you’re concerned about somebody you know:

• Ask them. While people may be hesitant to ask if someone is thinking about suicide, research shows this is helpful.

• Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.

• Be there with them. Listen to them and try to make a plan to get them the help they need.

• Help them connect. Know what resources are available in your community and help connect them to professionals for ongoing support.

• Stay connected. Keep checking in with them to see how they are doing and what they need.

Most importantly, if you need help for yourself or someone you know, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Editors Note: Locally, those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or are worried about someone they know have access to help through the 21 Wellness Coalition and/or Sources of Strength. In honor of Suicide Awareness Month we would like to encourage those who many be struggling with mental health issues to reach out and access help, you don’t have to do this alone!


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