Almost everyone would of course answer “yes” to the question posed above. But when the question is about suicide, the answer might change. Suddenly we might be too scared to say yes. But most of the thousands who die by suicide each year can be saved if we know how. In the U.S., almost 50,000 people die by suicide every year. That’s almost 17 times the number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. In Colorado, a record 1,175 people died by suicide in 2017. That’s a lot of people who are taking their own lives who don’t have to. Because if we know how to listen, pay attention, and talk, suicide is preventable.
This is worth repeating: Suicide is preventable. That doesn’t mean every single suicide can be prevented. But most can be. And the way to prevent suicide is to learn about it. Learn what a desperate person looks and acts like, learn what to say to them, and learn to whom you should refer them. Not easy, perhaps, but you can save a life.
You may have known someone who killed themselves, or perhaps you know someone who has survived the suicide of a friend or loved one. We are often afraid to talk about it, but it’s time to let go of that. Children are dying at an alarming rate from suicide: The suicide rate among girls ages nine to 13 has tripled in the last three years. Colorado teens are killing themselves at a rate double that of the rest of the country, and the state is always in the top ten in suicide rates in the country.
Each one of us can help change that. Take a class. There are two kinds being offered in Lyons this year. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is offered once a month at the library. In one and half hours you can learn what to look for and what to do. Ask at the library about the monthly QPR class dates, which are also published on the Wide Spaces Community Initiative Facebook page.
For a more complete training, safeTALK is a three-and-a-half-hour session, offered with a meal, on March 3 and April 18, at the Lyons Community Church. To sign up, go to the Wide Spaces Community Initiative Facebook page and look under Events, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 720-300-3483.