The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) wants to talk. Well, they want us to talk. About mental health and suicide, the 12th leading cause of death in the US. On average, there are 130 suicides per day here.
AFSP research shows suicide is preventable if we work together. Since their public education program “Talk Saves Lives” launched in 2015, it has reached nearly 150,000 people across all 50 states with science-informed education about suicide and how we can all help prevent it. It can be as simple as reaching out to a friend.
Suicide is a topic that often hides in the shadows. In the dark. Many with depression or other mental health conditions that are unaddressed could lead to suicide and may feel ashamed or hesitant to ask for help. We can all make a difference. Learn the warning signs, know the risk factors and if you sense someone is struggling, be brave and talk to them. A few kind words can make a difference in connecting someone to help.
Now you’re thinking, “Could saying the wrong thing make it worse?” and worrying, “How do I begin a conversation?” You’re probably afraid of what you’ll do if they confess they are having thoughts of suicide. But research shows that asking someone directly if you suspect they may be thinking about suicide won’t put the idea in their head if it wasn’t there to begin with.
AFSP wants people to feel more confident in having a #RealConvo about mental health in general, and suicide when it comes up. Their #TalkAwayTheDark campaign page features a new short film highlighting some of the warning signs for suicide, #RealConvo Guides, and other tools, resources, and creative ways to help us overcome our fears of speaking up.
The #RealConvo Guides, which cover topics including general mental health conversations, how to reach out for help, how to respond if someone tells you they’re thinking about suicide, and how to sensitively talk to a survivor of suicide loss, contain an easy-to-follow step by step process, from opening lines to follow up. They include conversation starters such as, “What is one thing you are looking forward to?’ and ‘Who is one person who makes you feel seen?’ The guides offer ways to share your own experiences, how to follow the other person’s lead, when to take a break, and how to help them connect to professional support.
Suicide prevention begins with talking. Be open to discussions of mental health. Be watchful and be ready to speak up.
Learn more with #TalkAwayTheDark.
Always remember, if you, a friend or a loved one is in crisis, call or text 988, or text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7. If you’ve lost someone to suicide, support is available.