Six Ways You Can Help Lower the Suicide Rate

September is Suicide Prevention Month

The rate of suicides in all age groups continue to spiral, with Colorado always being in the top ten states for suicides, and now we have a terrifyingly high rate of increase in suicides among youth ages 15 to 19. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and there are many ways that you can help lower the suicide rate in our town, county, state, and country. There are things that anyone can do to help. Here are some that take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
 
A few minutes: Support the bills in Congress to make 9-8-8 the number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number by calling Congress. Call the Capitol Hill switch board at (202) 224-3121 and they’ll connect you to the offices of your Senators and Representative. Senator Cory Gardner is the original sponsor and Senator Michael Bennett is a co-sponsor of S. 2661, the Senate bill to change the hotline number to 9-8-8, so call them and thank them. Representative Joe Neguse has not yet signed on to be a sponsor of H. R. 4194, so call him and ask him to sponsor it. Then share this information with friends and family across the country so they can call their Congresspeople, too.
 
A few minutes: Put the National Suicide Lifeline number— (800) 273-8255 (press 1 for military) or text 741741— into your phone book. Put it up on your refrigerator door.
 
A few minutes: Post the National Suicide Lifeline number— (800) 273-8255 (press 1 for military) or text 741741– on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Share the number with friends. Ask them to post it and put it in their phones. You can share the post from Wide Spaces Community Initiative’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/widespacescomm.
 
Ten minutes: Call the National Suicide Lifeline number— (800) 273-8255 or text 741741—and talk to them. Ask them about what they do, what happens when someone calls, what it is like to work there. This increases the chances of your using the number to save a life by a whopping 80%.
 
One to two hours:
Become certified in suicide prevention by taking an online class, either on your own or with others through Zoom. Classes on suicide prevention help people to feel more compassionate about suicide and less scared by it. The classes give you an understanding about who suicide impacts (everyone) and how very preventable it is. You gain the confidence to be able to talk to someone who is struggling, because you know you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be there, and you are given the resources, so you know where to refer them. There are two, free-to-you, classes being offered by Wide Spaces Community Initiative over the next month and a half, paid for by a grant from the Town of Lyons Goodwill Fund. They will take about the same amount of time as a movie:
 
An hour: Self-Guided, Online
That’s how long it takes to go through a self-guided online certification course in suicide prevention called Living Works Start. You can take longer, but it can be done in an hour, by yourself at home. Once you sign up, you get 60 days to complete the course. Wide Spaces Community Initiative (WSCI) has 45 of these classes to share with people. Contact WSCI at wscilyons@gmail.com or the Lyons Community Library at info@lyonsregionallibrary.com or 303-823-5165 and WSCI will send you the link.

Two hours: In-Person, Virtual
That’s how long it takes to take an in-person virtual certification course in suicide prevention called QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer. Join others via Zoom for the most widely used suicide prevention class in the country. Go to https://www.facebook.com/widespacescomm for information on dates and how to register at Eventbrite for these classes.
 
All the time:
Notice when anyone you know seems down, or their behavior changes in significant ways. Once you’ve noticed, ask them about it. Without judgment and as kindly as you can, say something like; “I’ve noticed that you seem down lately/you’ve been doing a lot of _________ lately. Are you okay? Is something wrong? Do you want to talk? I’m here.” If they are struggling, you can give them the the National Suicide Lifeline number that’s in your phone. You can even call it for them and stay with them while they talk.
 
Because our society doesn’t like to talk about suicide, most of us are not aware of how many people we know have seriously thought about suicide. Every year, four percent of adults admit they have thought about killing themselves that year. How many more cannot, or will not, admit it? Let’s create a Community of Hope, one where it’s safe to ask for help around suicide, and one where one in every three people over the ages of 15 has been trained in suicide alertness and prevention. Then Lyons can be a place where no one is ever ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
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Janaki Jane has worked for over 35 years assisting people toward wellness. She founded the Wide Spaces Community Initiative, “Creating a Community of Belonging and Personal Safety for Everyone,“ a program through the Lyons Regional Library. Janaki teaches multiple classes on mental health and suicide prevention and creates community-building events. She can be reached at wscilyons@gmail.com.

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