PREVENTION. It is a hopeful word. It is a word of hesitation. It is a word that reminds us to prepare for the worst, so we can avoid it. When we hear ‘Suicide Prevention’ we often will think of one thing, hotlines. Hotlines have long been an important and vital part of preventing suicide and guiding people out of crisis. However, if we look to hotlines as the only form of prevention then we are essentially saying we are counting on the person who is already struggling (often alone) to reach out and get help. Statistics show us that of the people who call hotlines about 30% will hang up upon hearing a stranger’s voice. The sobering truth is that in the US we lose someone to suicide every 13 minutes. When a preventable form of death is ending over 40k lives a year shouldn’t prevention be a larger community effort? For instance if we look at motor vehicle deaths over the last few decades we see a dramatic decline from over 50k deaths in the 70’s to just over 30k in recent years. This isn’t because we didn’t want to talk about it, it is because we did. There were car safety improvements, policy changes, safe driving campaigns, and mothers constantly reminding us to buckle up. In fact, there is still tons of effort and funding being poured into making further safety improvements and consistently educating the public. A similar case could be made for breast cancer which has seen death rates on the decline since 1989. What if we hadn’t started improving treatments and educating the public on the importance of early detection? What if we hadn’t broken down the stigma surrounding the subject and there weren’t marches to raise awareness and bring unity? It's time to action as a community. So what can we all do to start preventing suicide? Plenty. We will continue to post helpful tips of how we can help prevent suicide and increase mental wellness for ourselves and our community, but for today we suggest one thing.
TALK. Start talking about it. Don’t be afraid of the word. If we are to break down the stigma surrounding the subject and start changing things we first need to feel comfortable enough to engage in conversations. To get started we suggest learning some statistics, watching this important TED Talk (below), and sharing this blog.
If you want to learn more about spotting warning signs and starting conversations check out our growing resource page.