I have the privilege of serving on the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Council and even though I have worked in the field of mental health for many years it has been very educational.
This group works to bring resources to the state to help in prevention efforts. It also works to promote public policy to make information more accessible.
We all know how key vaccination programs have been in preventing many diseases and believe that making sure information and resources about suicide prevention can be equally effective. This body seeks to lay the foundation to make this a reality.
In Arkansas in 2014, suicide exceeded motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death. It is the number one preventable cause of death in the nation.
The good news is everyone can help to make a difference. If you are concerned about someone, ask and encourage and assist them in getting help from a mental health professional. At least 80 percent of those who die by suicide are experiencing a mental illness and help is available.
Be aware if someone you know has any change in his or her appetite, sleep or social interactions. Ask questions about how they are feeling and what they are thinking about.
There is a national suicide hotline that can be contacted at 1-800-273-TALK. It is important not to assume that the person will get over this in a few days or that they are not really serious. Most attempts are made within 10 to 15 minutes of this idea occurring. And the idea most often occurs in those who have a mental illness and the stressors they experience overwhelm their coping abilities.
Things can get better, if they receive help, and you can be the one that first reaches out to connect them. One of the best resources for more information on this topic and how you can help can be found on the American foundation for Suicide Prevention website.
K. Jan Sims
LCSW Area 11 Representative
Governor’s Suicide Prevention Council