Suicide is tough to talk about, but we need to talk about it and in the right way. With the past eight months we have had, many of us are left asking ourselves what actions can we take that will make a difference? Even with the best of intentions, actions and spoken or written words can have negative consequences.
The positive news is that suicide can be preventable and there are ways that we all can help. Suicide and non-fatal suicidal behavior are major public health problems in Idaho. Our state is consistently among the states with the highest suicide rates. In 2016, Idaho had the eithth highest suicide rate and in 2017 we are now the fifth. Also, important to note is that 60 percent of suicides in Idaho involve a firearm.
Below are protective factors for suicide from the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) of Idaho.
• Strong connections to family
• Strong connections to community support
• Effective professional care for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders
• Easy access to a number of different types of professional help
• Being supported to seek help
• Mental and medical health care relationships that are ongoing
• No access to highly lethal means of suicide
Still wondering what you can do to help prevent suicide?
Take Away the Keys: If you suspect someone may harm themselves, take away the lethal means they have access to. Firearms and prescription medications should be placed in locked containers.
Ask the Question: “Are you thinking of committing suicide?” As direct as this may seem, it opens the conversation with someone who may be contemplating harming themselves and allows you to encourage them to seek help.
Become Involved in Your Community: Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) 5K walk is Sept. 22 at Riverstone Park. Come walk with us! Register here: https://bit.ly/2BL2XAG
This summer Panhandle Health District in partnership with the Kroc Center put on Teen Support Nights at the Kroc Center. Youth in our community need support and resources. Connect with local organizations and events.
School districts in North Idaho are working on programs to support their students. Ask how you can help.
Seek Training: Panhandle Health District offers QPR training. Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training helps people learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.
Know the Resources: www.spanidaho.com
Lora Whalen is the district director of Panhandle Health District.