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September is dedicated for suicide prevention and instilling hope in societies across the states. A great focus on suicide prevention month is awareness and education. Suicide is preventable, and education is one way to go about it. Educating people about its risk factors and warning signs can equip them with the ability to help their loved ones who are struggling.

Risk factors are various things that can happen in an individual’s life, which contribute to the overall risk of suicide. These factors are not the actual reasons for suicide but only contributory factors. They are the simple things that can be looked out for in our loved ones and handled. These risk factors can be:

  • Death of a loved one
  • A traumatic experience
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Mental health conditions
  • Physical illness or disability
  • Persistent family conflicts
  • Physical or sexual abuse

Warning signs are actual behaviors or signs that can be observed in an individual. This makes it important to look out for a change in behavior in your loved ones. Some of these warning signs may include:

  • Engaging in the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawal from friends or family
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Talking about being a burden

When an individual observes these warning signs in a loved one, it is important to check if that loved one needs any help. Before starting the conversation, one should make sure that they have and are aware of the necessary resources for help that the individual may need. Talking about suicide doesn’t give anyone an idea about it. It gives them the opportunity to talk openly about their feelings and reduces the risk of acting on these feelings.

When someone checks on their friend or a loved one, it is important that they are sensitive and not judgemental. Having such a conversation shouldn’t feel scary. We all have the ability and compassion to make others feel comfortable enough to open up. A good way to go about this would be to find a place where both of you can sit comfortably, there are no distractions, and you can set plenty of time to have a conversation.

MANY resources are available, both locally and nationally. Individuals can call 24/7 at National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 18002738255 or 18007994889. There is also an online chat service available at http://www.crisischat.org/chat. There’s a full list of resources at https://suicideprevention.wikia.org/wiki/USA and http://www.thekimfoundation.org/.

We all have the power to SAVE lives and help prevent the incidences of suicides. Not just this month but each day of every month, we should keep a check on our loved ones around us. Let us work together to bring hope and healing to our community.

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