Let’s Talk About Suicide

June 29th

Community Gardening


One of my roles is work in suicide prevention. In the last two years, I’ve learned there are few families in America who haven’t been touched by suicide — and this is especially true if you live west of the Mississippi. There is a western wave of violence theory; in a nutshell: there are a lot of guns west of the Mississippi.

I’m not getting into a gun debate here. I am going to share a few insights that I hope may help one of you reading.

  1. You’re not alone. Lots and lots of people (most Americans, actually) will experience depression at some point. Some 80% of suicides are related to depression. You may have visited that dark place where ending your life seems more reasonable than sorting out the problems at hand. The good news in all of this is there are lots of resources, and you can remain anonymous if you want too.
  2. People who attempt suicide and survive are not doing so “for attention.” They are hurting, and they need help. Judgments of their behavior do not help. Let’s be thankful they’ve survived.
  3. Talk therapy is gold for suicidal individuals. Sometimes, a person may also need medications to help right the chemicals in their brain. Similarly, sometimes diabetics need insulin. There should be no societal difference in how we decipher the pharmaceutical needs of our physical and behavioral needs.
  4. Community is critical. The most successful suicide prevention program in Arizona pairs senior volunteers with home-bound seniors. These pairs become friends. Now, a person who wasn’t able to leave their home has a friend coming over at least once a week to check in. Just that has been enough. The program hasn’t had a suicide yet.
  5. Suicide, regardless of age, race or sexual preference, etc., happens because of isolation. A person may feel alone in a rural community, or in a bustling high school. Loneliness is public enemy number one in suicide prevention. We are creatures who need friendship.
  6. The largest group of individuals dying by suicide in America are white men age 65 and older by gun. If you have a man who meets these criteria in your life and you are at all concerned, please remove any guns or prescription drugs from the home until you can find him help.

Some great resources:

  • Teen Lifeline pairs kids with kids to talk about tough things, including suicide.
  • Your state behavioral health system. It may not be perfect, but they should have resources available for both substance abuse and suicide prevention. These often go hand in hand.
  • Safe Talk. This is a two day class that trains anyone age 18 and older how to recognize concerning behaviors and make a safe plan. Your municipality should be offering this course.
  • The Area Agency on Aging. The AAA will have community resources regarding suicide as well.

If someone in your life is hurting and considering suicide, please speak up.



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Public Health
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3 Responses

  1. This makes me sad sad sad. One of my cherished friends died last year of apparent suicide; it haunts me. I’m glad you’re sharing this information! I can’t help but wonder if I could have been better able to help had I read a post like this then, but you never know who it could save next. Knowledge is power.

  2. Thank you Kelli! My Dad committed suicide by shooting himself when he was in his 80’s. We don’t know where he got the gun. I am positive that his doctor never thought that he might be depressed. The Dr. told him that he just needed more exercise! It is a sad epidemic.

  3. Bonnie July 3, 2016

    Kelli, thank you for broaching this subject. I would include mention of post-partum depression being a trigger for suicide attempts. She’s stopped writing but I found this blogger’s story moving.http://www.beyondpostpartumblog.com/