Suicide Prevention and Awareness:
Knowing What to Look For and Where to Turn
I get lost, a lot! I can go to the same place a thousand times, know exactly how to get there, and still manage to end up on the other side of town. Once, I even ended up in a different state. For over 30 years, I have traveled back and forth from my dad’s house in Missouri to my mom’s house in Kansas. I should know this route like the back of my hand, right? Yet somehow I ended up in Oklahoma. Let me remind you that Kansas and Missouri are bordering states. There was no need for me to ever leave either state, yet somehow I managed. This was before the days of GPS, so there was no opening a map on my smartphone. I barely had phone signal, and when I did, it was spotty. I frantically called my dad and told him I had no clue where I was, other than somewhere in Oklahoma, and I had gotten there while leaving Missouri. My dad asked me for mile markers and road signs, figured out where I was, and instructed me on how to get home.
Oftentimes, when a person is thinking of suicide, they may also experience feelings of being lost. There may be an inability to find hope and happiness; instead, feelings of depression, hopelessness, and loneliness are taking place. The inability to find oneself has taken root and sometimes the battle raging inside becomes too much to bear.
Sometimes we all need a GPS for life, a guide to get us through the rough patches. Unlike my Oklahoma adventure, the mile markers and road signs may not be as clear to everyone. As individuals, we can be the car that comes along and offers a helping hand to the person stranded on the side of the road, looking for their way out.
Suicide is 100% preventable. Look for the signs, not only in yourself but in those around you. Warning signs may include, but are not limited to:
-Someone talking about suicide
-Someone seeking ways to commit suicide. Ex. Pills, weapons, or other items
-Someone expressing feelings of hopelessness
-Acts of rage and revenge seeking
-Loss of interest in friends and family
-Loss of motivation for school, work, or other activities
-Increase substance use (drugs or alcohol)
As individuals, we all have the opportunity to act in a manner that promotes community and a feeling of belonging. Here are a few simple ways you can connect with those around you:
-Smile at people around you
-Engage in conversations
-Teach and practice anti-bullying techniques
-Ask, “Are you okay?”
-Reach out to someone you notice just isn’t quite themselves lately
-Be a friend
-When you are concerned about others or yourself, contact one of the following:
-Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
-Text “Kansas” to 741-741 to connect with the Crisis Text Line
-The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
There are resources available to help, whether it be for someone contemplating suicide, someone who has survived a suicide attempt, or someone who is dealing with someone who has committed suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out.
Author: Felicia Lama
Sources: Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www.kansassuicideprevention.org/safety-planning/