Reach out, speak up during Suicide Prevention Month

Who could use a little extra support right now? Many factors are coming together to impact our stress levels. Uncertainty is one that affects most of us. New challenges are coming at all levels — national, state, local, family and individual.

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Now is a prime time to look at how we can take better care of ourselves and each other. The additional stresses in our lives can leave us feeling less satisfied, more overwhelmed, even hopeless.

A first step in preventing suicide can be found in “reach out, speak up.” It goes both ways — whether you are in distress or concerned about someone else. Talking with someone who cares and will listen without judgement can go a long way in reducing feelings of loneliness, overwhelm and distress. If you are struggling, talk to someone you trust. If you are concerned about someone, start a conversation, ask how they are doing and be prepared to listen in a way that helps you understand. Don’t jump to giving advice or trying to “talk them out of it.” Help them find resources to address their needs — employment, parenting, mental health, food, substance use, or myriad others. Check in with each other regularly. Encourage each other in self-care — exercising, breathing, laughter, reading and discussing a book, getting outside — choose a regular option that works for you. You can learn more about what steps to take at www.take5tosavelives.org.

A new national survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older shows respondents overwhelmingly believe suicide can be prevented (93%). While 95% of those surveyed said they would do something if someone close to them was thinking about suicide, most people (69%) identified barriers that keep them from discussing suicide with others. In another study, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggles with mental health or substance use — two important factors in suicide risk. In that study, 10.7% reported they seriously considered suicide. Truly, now is the time to pay attention and take action. Even small kindnesses can make an impact.

If you are in need of support you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or text to 741741.

Join others in raising awareness about suicide prevention and local resources at the Alpena Suicide Prevention Walk beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Bay View Park.


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