I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to each of you who might be supporting someone struggling with suicidality.
You may be someone working in the field of mental health who has noticed the increasing number of people experiencing suicidal thoughts or perhaps you have personally known someone who has been hospitalized or has acted on their thoughts. These experiences are difficult and sometimes daunting, especially if we are close to the person suffering so deeply. As a friend or practitioner we each may go through a variety of experiences. We might get angry, upset, sad, or scared. We might struggle to be fully present or find that we no longer want to be available for support. We could pull closer only to be pushed away or we may start to experience the overwhelm of the whole situation. I cannot say what it might be like for you, but I know as a friend of people who have passed through this experience it has brought up many of these feelings. For me, it has translated into a desire to be more present, to learn, and to understand how I can be a better friend and therapist in these tough times.
Not all people who experience suicidal thoughts will act. However, in 2016, suicide was the leading cause of death in Colorado for those between 10-24 (according to this study). This number is sobering and shows us how much help is needed. I know I do not have the perfect answer but I do want to share something with each of you.
You. You are what made me want to write about this story. As I experience an increasing number of people with these thoughts and struggles, I repeatedly hear that connection is missing and deeply needed. This made me think of all of you. You provide the connection and hope that help people feel cared for, loved, and part of something. I come away with gratitude to everyone who is there for the people in their life, who foster a stable connection week after week, and who help people not feel isolated. There is a way that your being there may help them know they are there too.
As practitioners, we may be aware of the professional protocols to follow, but if you have someone in your personal life who is contemplating suicide, reaching out to crisis care at Mental Health Partners is always a good first step. If you are worried and don't know what to do, 911 can support you. Below are good numbers to reach in case you, as a friend or loved one, need more support and want to help. I have included resources below on how to be there for people in your life or maybe even yourself.
I send deep gratitude to all of you who are helping and supporting friends, family, clients, and loved ones in difficult times. I greatly appreciate all that you do.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health Partners 24/7 crisis line 1-844-493-TALK (8255)
This link is a great resource for learning more about what you can do from Lifeline.
Also here is a link to the safeTALK trainings put on by Mental Health Partners.