Take a Minute for Mental Health During Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Awareness Month and time for us to discuss a reality that is both tragic and affects many. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, 132 Americans died by suicide each day and 1.4 million people attempted suicide. 90% of those who have died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition such as depression. Suicide DOES NOT need to be the end result for anyone.

First we need to familiarize ourselves with suicide risk factors such as:

  • Mood disorders
  • Substance Abuse
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive behavior
  • History of trauma
  • Major Physical Illness
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job loss or financial despair
  • Recent relationship loss
  • Access to lethal means
  • Lack of social supports

Secondly, we need to know the warning signs such as:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about having no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped in their pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increase in substance usage
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Extreme mood swings

The first step in helping someone you are concerned about is to ask if they’re thinking about suicide. This may feel awkward but it is necessary. Research shows people will tell the truth when asked. We can help keep them safe by removing or reducing access to lethal means. Immediate services such as therapy and counseling need to be offered. When an in-person therapist isn’t an option, local crisis centers and hotlines can be invaluable. Help them connect with ongoing support and stay connected with that person. Starting the conversation, offering support, and connecting someone to help can prevent deaths by suicide.

There are several agencies in the La Crosse area that offer therapy and counseling as well as RCW. We can provide referrals for those seeking help outside of RCW. Below are some local resources:

  • La Crosse County has a 24 hour Crisis Line: 608-784-HELP
  • Great Rivers 211
  • Gundersen Health System Behavioral Health: 1-800-362-9567
  • Mayo Clinic Health System Behavioral Health: 608-392-9555
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