Senator Ritchie – We Can Save Lives

By Senator Patty Ritchie

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Miss New York State Kaitlin Monte about bullying and how it can sometimes help drive people to suicide.

That’s one of the reason I have posted a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on my Senate website to make people aware that suicide prevention can save lives.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in our nation. One of my constituents, Debra Graham of Phoenix, the co-chair of the New York State Public Policy Committee for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suggested I could help make more people aware of how we can help save lives.

When someone takes their life, their friends and family often realize afterwards that their loved one was telling them they were at risk for suicide. We need to realize it’s not normal for someone to talk about taking their life. We need to take what they are saying  seriously and get them the help they need before it’s too late. Too many family members spend the rest of their lives wishing they’d listened when they heard what often turns out to be a cry for help.

If it’s a new behavior or seems related to a painful event, loss or change, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs:

Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
Looking for a way to kill oneself, 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.
Sleeping too little or too much.
Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
Displaying extreme mood swings.

The Lifeline is 24-hour suicide prevention crisis line that connects callers to local resources who can help. It also offers specific support for veterans in crisis.

Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information.

Here are tips from the foundation on what you can do if someone you know is talking about suicide:

Ask the person directly if he or she (1) is having suicidal thoughts, (2) has a plan to do so, and (3) has access to lethal means:

“Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
“Have you ever tried to hurt yourself before?”
“Do you think you might try to hurt yourself today?”
“Have you thought of ways that you might hurt yourself?”
“Do you have pills/weapons in the house?”

This won’t increase the person’s suicidal thoughts. It will give you information that indicates how strongly the person has thought about killing him- or herself.

Then call the Lifeline to obtain help before a tragedy occurs.