Please note this article discusses suicide. If you are struggling or know someone who is struggling, please reach out immediately to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or call 911.
Today marks the beginning of Suicide Prevention Month. The month of September is dedicated to preventing suicide and instilling hope in communities across the nation. A large focus for Suicide Prevention Month is on education. Suicide is preventable and one way to prevent suicide is to educate individuals on risk factors, warning signs, how to have conversations with loved ones when they are struggling, and resources which are available.
Risk factors are different things that can happen in an individual’s life that can contribute to the risk of suicide, but risk factors are not direct causes of suicide. They are simply things that people can look out for in their loved ones. A few different risk factors include death of a loved one or traumatic experiences, mental health conditions, and bullying. For a full list of risk factors go to https://moretomorrowsne.org/risk-factors/.
Warning signs are actual actions and behaviors people can observe in their loved ones. It is important with warning signs to watch for a change in typical behavior. A few different warning signs include withdrawal from friends or loved ones, engaging in use of alcohol or drugs, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, talking about being a burden, and giving away prized possessions. For a full list of warning signs go to https://moretomorrowsne.org/.
When an individual notices any of the warning signs mentioned above, it is important for them to check in on that person and get them the help they need. Before having this conversation, it is important for individuals to make sure they have resources readily available to provide to their friend or loved one. Asking about suicidal feelings will NOT place the idea in someone’s head, instead it offers an opportunity for that person to talk about their feelings and can reduce their risk of acting on their feelings. When someone checks in on a friend or loved one, it is important to be sensitive, ask direct questions, and avoid judgement. For specific conversation starters go to https://moretomorrowsne.org/. Having this conversation does not need to be scary! We all have the power to save lives and checking in on our friends is one way we can do that.
There are MANY resources which are available, both locally and nationally. Individuals can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 where they can speak to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Individuals can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741.741. There is also the Boys Town National Hotline which is 1.800.448.3000. There is a full list of resources at https://moretomorrowsne.org and also at www.thekimfoundation.org.
We ALL have the power to save lives and prevent suicide during this month and every other month. Let us work together to bring hope, healing, and more tomorrows to our friends, loved ones, families, and communities. Cling to hope. Cling to love. Cling to the fact that you are bright, beautiful, and so important even on your darkest days.
Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.