Here’s how you can help save somebody

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Warning signs of suicide:

• Threats of self-harm, or a past attempt

• Looking for tools — seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means

• Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide

• Feeling hopeless

• Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge by suicide

• Acting reckless, seemingly without thinking

• Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out

• Increased alcohol or drug use

• Withdrawing from friends, family, and society

• Feeling anxious, agitated, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

• Dramatic mood changes

• Seeing no reason to live or having no sense of purpose in life

Source: National Mental Health Information Center, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

I could write about SPAN’s 5K walk on Saturday (9:30 a.m. at Riverstone Park), but we already announced it.

I could write about our family’s personal connection with suicide, but Mike Patrick beat me to it.

I could rehash Idaho’s dismal suicide statistics (57 percent higher than the national average), and the tragedies of even one such loss, but you know that already.

So instead of dwelling, let’s focus on what we can do. That’s the primary point of National Suicide Prevention Week, and it’s healthier and more helpful to act.

Simply put: (1) Many are tempted, at least at some point in life; (2) There is always hope, because the only thing certain in life is change; (3) Communicating that hope, consistently and without judgment, is an action anyone can take — and may save a life.

Most who intend suicide show warning signs (see inset on page C3). Take them seriously; it’s not worth assuming such feelings will pass. Talk; don’t be afraid to ask if someone is feeling suicidal. Don’t act shocked or upset. Just ask why and listen patiently; seek to understand, rather than argue. Acknowledge feelings, but offer reasons for hope and good things about their life, or life generally. Be realistic about these, but not glib or dismissive.

Above all, reassure they are loved, wanted, needed, and that you are there to help them through this. Things will change, or at least their feelings will. Remove from access all means of suicide (guns, knives, pills). If they’re willing to see a counselor, help them make the appointment and offer a ride.

Those struggling, and those left behind, may benefit from the support of others who’ve been there. Suicide Prevention and Action Network meets monthly on third Wednesdays at 4 p.m. at Panhandle Health District, 8500 N. Atlas Road in Hayden. Survivor support meetings are first Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Mountain States Early Head Start, 411 N. 15th in Coeur d’Alene.

Need help now? Call (800) 273-TALK or connect with SPAN at spanidaho.org or spannorth@gmail.com.

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who is grateful not only to SPAN, but to all counselors, volunteers, and activists who work to prevent even one more from succeeding. Thank you. Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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