Firearm safety - a piece to suicide prevention puzzle

Hope Squads are one way that suicide is being prevented in Utah and other states. In Utah last year, 1,100 kids were referred for help through the Hope Squads and 30 kids were hospitalized because they were suicidal. These kids were helped because of Hope Squad members looking out for others in their schools.

Are you thinking of killing yourself?

That question and others like it can help save the life of someone who is at risk for suicide. A common concern, often amongst parents, is that talking or asking about suicide with others will put the idea into their heads. However, that is not the case, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Asking is actually the first action step, according to NIMH, for helping someone who is struggling with emotional pain. Other steps include ensuring that they are safe, being there to talk and listen, assisting them in connecting with those who can help and staying connected and keeping in touch.

More and more, we are learning it is OK to talk about suicide, even to kids. What used to be a taboo subject is making its way into our schools, churches and homes.

This is a good thing. Doors are being opened to discussions about how people are really feeling and hopefully, this will enable more people to get help.

In fact, according to Suicide Prevention Lifeline, research shows that people who are contemplating suicide actually feel relief when someone asks how they are doing in a caring way. Studies suggest that talking about suicide may reduce, rather than increase, suicide ideation.

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are 129 suicides per day, according to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

So, why have we remained silent about the subject for so long? The conversations can be difficult, uncomfortable and scary, but they can also help those who are suffering.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Throughout the month, many individuals, families and organizations will work to promote suicide prevention and awareness.

One way to commemorate this month right here in Utah Valley is to participate in the annual Walk4Hope. This walk is designed to bring awareness to the growing suicide rate in our communities and promote messages of suicide prevention. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at Timpanogos Elementary School, 449 N. 500 West in Provo. Registration begins at 9 a.m. There is no cost to participate.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Tuesday. This is a day set aside to remember those affected by suicide and to support those who are struggling. Asking the difficult questions are first steps to providing this support: “Have you made a plan to kill yourself?” “Are you feeling like giving up?” “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” “Do you feel like you want to die?”

For those struggling: Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Please ask for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to talk with someone or go to http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Let’s start talking.

Laura Giles is a longtime correspondent for the Daily Herald and a community member living in Pleasant Grove. She can be contacted at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.