Suicide Prevention: Awareness Is Important

Suicide is a huge issue in America, so it’s important to know the statistics and how we can change them.

The suicide rate went up more than 30 percent in half the 50 states since 1999, according to the Center of Disease Control, but it’s especially an issue in Alaska beacause Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the country.

According to the Center of Disease Control, Alaska’s suicide rates went up about 37.4 percent between 1999 and 2016.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into it, but one of the things that comes up is that in general across the country when you look at statistics with suicide, it’s more common in rural areas, so that can play a role,” said Julie Trim, Dimond’s school psychologist.

Jennifer Ratliff, a counselor at Dimond, also thought that one contributing factor could be our dark winters, because climate can impact a person’s mood.

“I think it’s important to bring awareness to a topic that is sometimes sensitive and hard for people to talk about, so by making an awareness month it makes it more acceptable to talk about, more normal to talk about so nobody has to be ashamed if they’re facing any feelings or situations surrounding suicide,” Ratliff said.

Trim added, “There’s a lot of different deaths out there that we don’t have a possibility to control or to prevent and with suicide, we have the opportunity. You know, if somebody is alive then we have the chance to be able to try and you know help connect them, help them and be there for them,”

The Center of Disease Control’s website gives 12 warning signs that might mean that someone is suicidal. Some of those include, but aren’t limited to, feeling like a burden, being isolated, increased anxiety, extreme mood swings and/or talking about wanting to die.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are plenty of things you can do and places you can go to get help.

Last year, the Anchorage School District started QPR, or question, persuade, refer.

Said Ratliff, “Question persuade, refer is basically a way for all of us, even if we’re not trained professionals, to help people who might be struggling with thoughts of suicide of how to work through that and get them the help they might need,”

QPR is taught to the staff at school and is also being taught to the students, but the Anchorage School District is also hoping to be able to teach the parents because they are part of our community.

One thing that you can also do is take your friend, or yourself, to your school counselor, school psychologist, a teacher or any other staff member. They are there to help, and they will get the help that you need.

If it is outside of school, then a student can let a family member know or if it’s a friend texting, saying that they can’t live anymore and they are saying that they have access to something that can do them harm, then you can call 911 and do a wellness check on them.

A wellness check basically means that if you give the dispatcher the person’s name, then they will send someone to their house and make sure that they are okay and are not going to hurt themself.

There are also care lines and life lines that you can text or call, depending on how serious the situation is.

The Alaska Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a text line that you can text from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. All you’d have to do is text help 4help to 839863, but if the situation is more serious then you should use the National Suicide Prevention Life line, which you can call anytime, 24/7. Their number is 1-800-273-8255.