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It's Suicide Prevention Month. You Could Save a Life With Three Simple Words "How Are You"

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez
Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. 

NAMI Greater Orlando Director Eric Welch says prevention is all about asking someone you’re worried about “how are you doing?” and then just listening.

“Sometimes all it takes for suicide prevention is that one person to reach out and say, 'how are you today, let’s talk, let's go have some coffee'.”

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Welch says no one is expected to be a mental health expert if a family member or friend confesses they are thinking about suicide.

But he says it’s crucial to have the United Way or Suicide Prevention Lifeline numbers handy to pass onto that person so that they can get help.

“You’re not expected to be a medical professional. I'm not a medical professional. You're expected to, 'well, if you’re in crisis, I know the crisis line, the crisis line in town is 2-1-1 or I know somebody we can talk to or maybe you should seek therapy'.”

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Welch says an obsession around death, giving away possessions, reckless behavior or long-term depression can all be warning signs of suicide.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. There’s also a text feature online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Here's a quick refresher from the Lifeline:

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

Risk factors of suicide 

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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