Robertson: Suicide prevention takes all of us
I was heartbroken to hear about the tragic loss of Stephen “tWitch” Boss to suicide last week. And I am not the only one. People around the country are mourning the death of this talented dancer, choreographer, television personality, husband, and father.
We’ve seen dozens of news stories and thousands of social posts, the sharing of crisis lines and resources, and messages about the importance of being kind and reaching out to others all over social media.
As a society, we don’t talk about suicide often enough due to the stigma surrounding it, but many people at some time or another have been impacted by suicide. You don’t have to personally know the person who died by suicide to be affected. We saw that last week with tWitch. We experience this impact in our small community far too many times each year.
Suicide loss and suicide prevention are two things I think about almost every day. I work for SpeakUp ReachOut, and suicide prevention is our mission. My job is to spread awareness about suicide prevention or coping with suicide loss, and I am frequently on social media.
Recently, I’ve been heartened to see the outpouring of (mostly) positive messages about reaching out to others and where to find resources. However, I’ve also realized that many people would have no idea what to do if someone they loved was in a mental health or suicidal crisis. You might not even recognize that the crisis is occurring. Here are just a few of the comments I read on a social post sharing the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline last week:
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- “I wish I knew this number for a loved one many years ago”
- “Do you mind sharing some of the things we should listen for as triggers?”
- “I was someone’s last call too and I always wish I did/ knew more”
- “Looking back there were definitely signs that were obvious once everyone in the person’s life got to talking and put it all together”
- “I wish I’d had the tools to do something”
According to The Harris Poll’s 2022 national survey of adults in the U.S. to understand the public’s beliefs and attitudes about mental health and suicide, 94% of adults see suicide as preventable at least sometimes and 75% believe most people who die by suicide show signs beforehand. However, only 36% feel they can tell when someone is considering suicide.
There is hope. Prior to a suicide, there are almost always warning signs — verbal, behavioral, or situational. That means you may have the opportunity to help if you can recognize these signs. That’s where your actions can make a difference.
SpeakUp ReachOut offers evidence-based suicide prevention training for adults year-round. Training sessions are available for free. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) and VitalCog: Suicide Prevention in the Workplace are the most popular sessions and range from one hour to two hours long. SpeakUp ReachOut can bring these trainings directly to your workplace or organization.
For individuals who would like to be trained in QPR, our partner, All Points North offers QPR training twice a month for free to anyone who wants to attend. You can learn more about these and all of our other trainings at SpeakUpReachOut.org/training.
Suicide prevention requires all of us to do our part. Knowing what to look for and what to do could help you save a life. Please take advantage of all SpeakUp ReachOut has to offer. We are here for you. You don’t want to say one day, “I wish I’d had the tools to do something.”