Community leaders and doctors push for conversation on World Suicide Awareness Day

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COLORADO SPRINGS — September 10 is recognized as World Suicide Awareness day, it falls right in the middle of Suicide Awareness Month.

“Suicide is among the leading causes of death for people of all ages, with thousands across the nation taking their own lives each year. According to the CDC, suicide rates increased by 30% nationally between 1999 and 2016, including 34% in Colorado,” according to a press release sent out by Centura Health of Pueblo.

Dr. Ryan Jaarsma, the Director of Behavioral Health Education at Southern Colorado Family Medicine, stated that people need to sit down and have open conversations with each other about how they may be feeling.

He said it’s OK for worried friends or family members to ask questions to get a better understanding of what they need to do to help.

“People are having thoughts, and if we don’t ask about them, then people are keeping them to themselves, and that isn’t good in this case,” Dr. Jaarsma said.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), watch for friends, family, and loved ones who:

  • Share comments or thoughts about suicide
  • Increase their use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Show aggressive behavior
  • Withdraw from friends, family, and community
  • Show dramatic mood swings
  • Act impulsively or recklessly

“There’s a fear that talking about suicide will make it worse or plant the idea in someone’s mind. That couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Dr. Jaarsma said. “Asking about it and listening with empathy can be the first steps in helping someone get to a better place emotionally.”

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner released a video statement on Thursday to talk about the three-digit crisis line he wants implemented throughout the country for mental health emergencies.

“Last year, on average, we lost a Coloradan to death by suicide roughly every seven hours,” Senator Gardner added.

The number 988, he said, will just make it faster for those struggling with mental health emergencies to get the help they need.

“Increasing the accessibility of life-saving services will be a key factor in addressing the growing suicide crisis in our nation. That’s why I am calling on the House of Representatives to immediately move to take up and pass S. 2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. Every day the House of Representative’s delays is a missed opportunity to support critical suicide prevention measures and save lives,” Senator Gardner stated.

If you or someone you love needs to talk, Colorado Crisis Line is free, confidential, and available 24/7 by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting TALK to 38255. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 for free, confidential support at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

More information about suicide prevention can be found at The Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

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