September 10th through 16th is Suicide Prevention Week. Michele Skalicky reports on the warning signs for suicide and how to seek help.
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Missouri. It's the 2nd leading cause of death for Missourians 15 to 34-years-old. For the past 7 years, there's been an average of 700 suicides in the state per year. The MO Department of Mental Health hopes to lower those numbers through education. This week is Suicide Prevention Week, and several activities are planned across the state including activities aimed at education the public about suicide. Scott Perkins, coordinator of DMH's Youth Suicide Prevention Project, says it's important for people to learn the warning signs and what action to take.
(A lot of times, after a suicide, people look back and say they saw all these warning signs in hindsight, that they didn't really notice at the time--could be leading towards suicide--so, we're just trying to prevent that and help people become more knowledegable about suicide)
It is possible to know ahead of time if someone is considering taking his or her own life, short of them approaching you and telling you about it. Perkins says there are warning signs
(The biggest one would be suicide ideation where they're threatening or talking about hurting themselves--the want to get a gun or they're stockpiling pills or they're writing about suicide--that's one of the main ones, but there's several other ones including starting to use alcohol or drugs at an increase rate. Hopelessness is another one. If they start withdrawing from friends and family. If you see dramatic mood changes. If people have been depressed for awhile and start to act happy it could be a good sign, but it also could be a warning sign because they might have finally made up their mind that suicide is a solution)
Perkins says people need to know it's ok to approach someone who they believe may be suicidal and ask them about it
(A lot of times if you're upfront and honest with these people, they'll share with you how they're feeling. They want help. They're fighting--they're kind of in the middle, and if you can lead them in the direction to get treatment, that can be very helpful)
If a person learns that someone is considering taking his or her own life, they should first talk with them about it and point out the reasons to go on. They should then seek help. Suicide hotlines are available both for those considering suicide and for those who want to help them. The are: 1-800-SUICIDE and 1-800-273-TALK. 7 agencies serve as regional resource centers to provide suicide prevention services across the state. The agency that serves Southwest Missouri is the Ozark Center in Joplin. Contact them at 417-781-4031.