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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is commonly the result of mental health conditions that impact people when they are most vulnerable, and can affect anybody regardless of age, gender, or background. Friends and families are obviously affected as well, experiencing shame or stigma that prevents the open discussion of the issues.

The goal for this September is to spread awareness and knowledge in the interest of suicide prevention. The following are a few tips.

Recognize the early signs

  • Ideation—threats or comments about self-harm—can range from casual, self-deprecating remarks to outright dangerous claims
  • Increased drug and alcohol use
  • Withdrawal from community and friends
  • Reckless or impulsive behavior

Understand prevention measures

  • Remove access to weapons, knives, and medications that could pose a danger
  • Talk openly and honestly with the at-risk loved one
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Don’t argue, threaten, or raise your voice

Provide ongoing support

  • Let your loved one know he/she can talk to you about what he/she is going through
  • Don’t make it an argument—even if negative comments are made—try to provide positive support
  • Active listening techniques will make your loved one feel validated—reflect feelings and summarize thoughts
  • Reassure your loved one that you are concerned for his/her well being and encourage him/her to lean on you for support

The prevention of suicide requires a continuing campaign of awareness, understanding, compassion, and a willingness to participate actively in its cause. Understanding some of the basics and promoting awareness of the issue will contribute strongly to the cause of suicide prevention.