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 Working Together to Prevent Suicide

Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 9 -15, 2018. During this week, individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to broadcast the message that suicide can be prevented, and to reach as many people as possible with the tools and resources to support themselves and those around them. This year's theme is "Working Together to Prevent Suicide."

The good news is that suicide can be prevented. Many people who feel suicidal don't want to die, they want to end their pain and keep from being a burden to others. People who find themselves in a suicide crisis can and do recover. Sometimes support with life problems can help turn the tide.

The following actions can help:

Create a supportive environment wherever you work, live, learn, and play. Supportive environments make healthy choices easier. The following steps are geared toward workplaces, but they can broadcast a message of help and hope in any environment.

Know the Signs: Most people who are considering suicide show some warning signs or signals of their intentions. You may have noticed that a a friend has been frequently late to school work or missed more days than usual or hasn't been able to keep up with their daily routine. There may be more going on under the surface. They may be experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues, having financial problems, going through a divorce, or coping with illness in the family. They may feel hopeless, that there is no way out from their problems, and fear that they may lose their job, their house, or disappoint their family. Learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide by visiting the Know the Signs website.

Find the Words: Check in with the people around you, especially if you notice that something may be wrong, or their behavior has changed. Avoid rushing to judgement and instead find a time to have a real conversation with them. Lead with open ended questions. Let them know you are available to listen and to help. Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. This can be difficult to do, but being direct provides an opportunity for them to open up and talk about their distress and will not suggest the idea to them if they aren't already thinking about it. The "Find the Words" section of the Know the Signs website suggests ways to start the conversation.

Reach Out: You are not alone in this. Before having the conversation, become familiar with some resources to offer to the person you are concerned about. Have resources available to refer them to. 

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255- TALK). The Lifeline offers free and confidential assistance from trained counselors in your area. The Lifeline is also available in Spanish, and for veterans or for those concerned about a veteran, by selecting a prompt to be connected to counselors specifically trained to support veterans.

Hang posters and keep a supply of brochures handy that convey the message that help is available. Materials are available for free download by visiting the Each Mind Matters Resource Center. Make sure everyone knows their options by compiling a listing of resources in your area, such as counseling, support groups, and programs that help with life problems such as legal support, family services, and debt counseling. Disseminate the list widely.

The Know the Signs campaign is one of several statewide initiatives funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). These efforts are administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority and are part of Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement.