Silence will not end suicide

newspaperSuicide can take the life of someone successful and apparently happy and content, as the high-profile deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain can attest.

The frustrating thing about suicide is that, unlike so many other causes of death, suicide is entirely preventable.

Also frustrating is the notion that still persists that even just talking about suicide can lead people to think about doing it themselves.

So we don’t talk about it, and pretend that by not talking about it, it will just go away. As if we could just pretend that not talking about cancer would make cancer go away, that if we stopped taking steps to prevent the onset of heart disease, then heart disease would go away.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

For some, the problems of life that we all have to endure are particularly hard to process, and the pain gets to be so much that it can seem that the only way to get the pain to come to an end is by ending it all.

The mental-health community has come up with innovative approaches to train counselors and advocates to be able to assist people through these feelings and get them to the place where they seek treatment as a better option.

The limitation to their work is that the training is still something that only a relative handful of people have access to.

The logical next step to preventing suicide on a societal scale is to make the training techniques much more readily available.

Just imagine if suicide intervention training was made part of health and PE classes in middle school and high school, for example.

We’d be arming teens, the most vulnerable among us, to be on the lookout for their friends, and at the same time themselves.

The residual effect of that education in adolescence would have lifelong impacts.

Another important step could involve offering some kind of incentive – maybe a tax incentive – for employers to offer suicide intervention training under their health plans.

That way, we’re hitting the segments of the population out of school, and giving them the same tools to look out for their friends and themselves.

We know how to stop suicide. We need to put what we know to work.

Column by Chris Graham

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