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Everyone Has a Role in Suicide Prevention

September 4-10 is National Suicide Prevention Week

Saturday, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day

Charleston, WV – The crisis counselors who answer West Virginia’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline want to spread the message that everyone has a role in suicide prevention. On average, one person dies by suicide every 22 hours in the state. Terrance Hamm, Director of West Virginia’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, says many deaths can be prevented with proper intervention. He explained, “We have competent, compassionate crisis counselors here to help 24/7, but we can’t help those in distress if they don’t know about us.”

Vibrant, the company that administers the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, created the #BeThe1 campaign to explain the steps anyone can take to help those in their life who are showing signs of distress. They are:

Ask- Ask the tough question. When somebody you know is in emotional pain, ask them directly:

 “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

Be There- If your friend is thinking about suicide, listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Listen with compassion and empathy and without dismissing or judging.

Keep Them Safe- Is your friend thinking about suicide? Ask if they’ve thought about how they would do it and separate them from anything they could use to hurt themselves.

Help Them Connect- Help your friend connect to a support system, whether it’s 988, family, friends, clergy, coaches, co-workers or therapists, so they have a network to reach out to for help.

Follow Up- Check in with the person you care about regularly. Making contact with a friend in the days and weeks after a crisis can make a difference in keeping them alive.

Signs that a loved one may need intervention include:

· Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

· Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.

· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

· Talking about being a burden to others.

· Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.

· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

· Sleeping too little or too much.

· Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

· Displaying extreme mood swings.

First Choice Services, a Charleston-based non-profit that operates 15 helplines focusing on addiction, mental health, and social services, answers calls, chats and texts from West Virginians seeking help from the National Suicide and Crisis Line. In July, that line changed its number to the easy-to-remember 988. From June to July, calls to the Lifeline from West Virginians increased by 22%. Along with the number change, there was an increased emphasis on promoting the chat and text feature. This led to a 218% increase in West Virginians using these features to seek help, measured from July 2021 to July 2022. 

Anyone feeling depressed, suicidal, or needing emotional support can call or text 988 or chat online at WV988.org. For more information on how to support a friend or loved one in crisis, visit bethe1to.com.