It's true. Does anyone really ever want to talk about suicide? Well, in Colorado it's a true public health crisis. We rank No. 7 in the country for deaths by suicide, our numbers are growing each year, and we need to step up to do something about it. All of us, not just some of us. In our state, the highest numbers are among the older white males and those ages 10-34 years old! Know anyone in those categories?
So, with September being Suicide Prevention Month nationally, it's a good time to talk and take action about it. That means you, too.
Here are a few ways you can be a part of the solution in Colorado:
Talk about it - Many people are afraid to talk about suicide or mental health issues in fear that they might "bring it on" among their family, friends or even themselves. Not true, according to the research. In fact, talking about it naturally comes with human connectedness, one thing that we can all provide with each other, and that can help for those in crisis. Talking about it may also uncover potential solutions or resources for professional help that make a difference.
If you see or hear something, say something - Very often, we hear after a suicide, about someone who had heard someone else talk about being depressed, cutting themselves or having suicidal thoughts. Can you imagine knowing that, not telling anyone, and then finding out the next week that person is dead? There may not have been a solution for that person, but what if she or he only needed to talk to someone who could help? And fear is not an excuse. You can always submit a confidential, anonymous tip to a suicide prevention hotline. You just might save someone's life.
Consider temporary off-site storage for firearms if a family member or friend is in crisis - When an emotional crisis (like a break-up, job loss, legal trouble) or a major change in someone's behavior (like depression, violence, heavy drinking) causes concern, storing guns outside the home for a while may save a life.
If it's you - If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thoughts of suicide, tell someone you can trust or seek out help from a professional. Listed below are a few places you can turn to confidentially. There is ALWAYS hope, always someone you can talk to. There are thousands of stories of people who have had those same thoughts (or have even attempted) who have come out on the other side with a productive, joyous life after getting help.
Take action today. We're all in this together. It's up to each of us together to turn Colorado around to the state of wellbeing, as well as beauty.
Linda Newell is the state senator of Senate District 26, which encompasses Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, west Centennial and parts of Aurora. She can be reached at (303) 866-4846 or Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org or senlindanewell.com.
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