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One conversation can save a life

Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 3:10 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 12:16 PM

Goodall-Witcher Healthcare joins the National Alliance on Mental Illness in recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.

Suicide prevention organizations aim to decrease suicides by 20 percent over the next seven years. In order to do this, they're making a conscious effort to talk about suicide — its warning signs, how to prevent it, how to discuss it, etc.— in school, at the workplace, and in politics.

Did you know that suicide ranks as the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-25 years old? But suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.

In 2016 alone, nearly 45,000 individuals died by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often, the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.

According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone. Comments or thoughts about suicide — also known as suicidal ideation — can begin small like, “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nothing matters.”

But over time, they can become more explicit and dangerous. Here are a few other warning signs of suicide:

•Increased alcohol and drug use

•Aggressive behavior

•Withdrawal from friends, family and community

•Dramatic mood swings

•Impulsive or reckless behavior

If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they’re going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they’re talking. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.

If you are unsure about possible warning signs, a licensed mental health professional can help assess. Goodall-Witcher Healthcare wants everyone to know that our Behavioral Health staff -- Courtney Mayfield, LPCS, Dr. Mimi Wright, PhD and Mindy Webb, LPC Intern -- is there for you when you need them. Yet some people still do not reach out when they need help.

For more information, please contact our Behavioral Health Department today at 254-675-8621, ext. 7853. If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), use the Crisis Text Line by texting "HELLO" to 741741, or call 911 immediately.

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