COLORADO SPRINGS — September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it’s a time to raise awareness of the stigmatized and often taboo topic of suicide.

The organization hopes to use this month to shift public perception, spread hope, and share vital information to people affected by suicide. NAMI’s goal is to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help.

NAMI reports one-in-six youth aged six to 17 experience a mental health condition each year with 50% of youth not getting treatment. Recognizing the signs of depression is key in preventing suicide.

To do that, parents and friends should encourage young people to end the silence. Many suffer alone without telling others of their feelings. Getting children and teens experiencing suicidal thoughts to speak up starts with being a good listener.

Christine Khan is the founder of Springs Behavioral Health. She said she’s seeing an increase in younger clients.

“It’s important to find times when you’re watching a show together, doing something as a family that they enjoy,” Kahn said. “Then, you open that line of communmiccation and they’re willing to open up.”

Acording to NAMI, Some of the warning signs someone may be suicidal include:

  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Display dramatic mood swings, act impulsive or reckless

Khan said some people may not even demonstrate these characteristics, however.

“A lot of people want to say, ‘no, no, you know you’re great, you know you’re fine’,” Khan said. “We can’t ‘fix’ it that way. We have to listen and take on and hear what they say because that’s how they really feel.”

For more information on Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and for tools to help a loved one who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, head to NAMI’s website.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.