World Suicide Prevention Day: 10 Things You Can Do To Help

Today is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day, we are officially launching The Shining Minds Project

The Shining Minds Project was created to facilitate connections and conversations about mental health and suicide with a focus on teens. This project was born after losing my sister, Kat (age 17), to suicide 5 months ago. (You can read more about our mission here.)

Teenagers are at an incredibly high risk for mental health issues and suicide. Caught between childhood and adulthood, the period of stress and worry (as well as constant pressure to fit in socially and perform well academically) creates feelings of distress, irritability, and increases the risk for mental health problems.

Learning more about what leads to teenage suicide can help prevent further tragedies. The Shining Minds Project aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health. We strive to create a safe environment for teens who are struggling. No one deserves to feel ashamed for opening up about mental health issues or seeking support.

This years National Suicide Prevention Week campaign is "The Power of Connection"

Although there is no single cause of suicide, one of the risks for suicide is social isolation and there is evidence for reducing suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another. We can all play a role through the power of connection by having real conversations about mental health with people in everyday moments.

We don’t always know who is struggling but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

10 Ways You Can Help

  • Learn how to recognize warning signs in others. The recognition of early signs of mental health problems in others (or yourself) can lead to earlier treatment, greater understanding and compassion, and a lower risk of suicide.

  • Express concern and offer support. Do not judge, criticize, or place blame.

  • Ask questions, listen to ideas, and help the person struggling find solutions or support.

  • Offer to help alleviate burdens, road blocks, and everyday tasks that may be placing additional stress on the person struggling.

  • Follow up, continue to offer support and check in, and include other family members or friends in your plan.

  • Continue to educate yourself and others so they understand the facts about mental health and do not discriminate, blame, or shame.

  • Treat everyone with respect, compassion, and empathy. You never know who is struggling.

  • Volunteer as a Crisis Counselor.

  • Donate to projects that advocate for mental health awareness, create resources, and develop or expand community programs.

  • Lend someone your strength. If you’ve lost someone to suicide and have worked through recovery, join the AFSP’s survivor outreach program. You can help someone else along their healing journey.

What To Say To Someone Who May Be Struggling

  • I’m worried about you. Can we talk about what is going on? If not, who is someone you are comfortable talking to?

  • How can I help?

  • What would help you?

  • Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?

  • Who can I contact to help you work through this?

  • Where can we met for [coffee, food, etc] and talk?

  • I am always here to listen if you feel like sharing or telling me more.

While it’s not always possible, try to keep questions open-ended. Allow the person to share as much, or as little, as they feel comfortable sharing. Do not try to diagnose or second guess their feelings. Listen very carefully to what the person has told you. Repeat it back and offer to help them find professional support. Most importantly, know your limits! If you believe someone is in immediate danger, you need to take action to make sure they are safe. 

If You Are Struggling

  • If you are comfortable calling a friend or family member, do so immediately so they can help you find support.

  • If you are not comfortable talking to a friend or family member please text or call either of the resources below.

    • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741. Talk to a real-life human being trying to bring you from a hot moment to a cool moment through active listening and collaborative problem-solving. (The Shining Minds Project founder is a crisis counselor.)

    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800.273.8255 NSPL provides a 24-hour crisis center.

  • Find a therapist

  • Find a support group

How To Deal With A Crisis

If someone tells you that they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, is searching for ways to kill themselves, is calling or texting people to say goodbye, acting recklessly, has increased their use of alcohol or drugs, or is isolating themselves from friends and family it’s time to take action.

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Author: Amanda Howell, MS, MPH

Founder of The Shining Minds Project