Continuing Conversations Around Suicide Prevention

October 19, 2022

Suicide Prevention Month may be behind us, but the conversation can’t stop when September ends. A new public perception poll shows that while most adults would try to help if someone close to them was thinking about suicide, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed believe they aren’t equipped to talk about suicide with someone who is struggling.

The public perception poll, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, found that perceptions around mental health and suicide are moving in the right direction. However, survey results indicate that more needs to be done to educate the public about the warnings signs of suicide, how to help and how to access mental health treatment.

Oftentimes there are behaviors that might indicate that someone is having thoughts of suicide. For example, of the 26 reported suicide deaths among Kansas youth aged 10 to 17 in calendar year 2020, the child communicated suicidal thoughts, actions or intent prior to taking their life in more than half of the cases according to the Kansas State Child Death Review Board. Warning signs can include a hopeless attitude, expressions of disgust in self, insomnia, withdrawing, talking about being a burden and increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.

If you notice that someone you know may be thinking about suicide, the best thing you can do is to ask directly if they are thinking about suicide. This question will not put the idea in their head and can open the door to an honest conversation. Be sure to listen and take what they say seriously. If they confide in you, be there for them by keeping them safe, connecting them with resources and staying in touch with them to see how they’re doing.

In July, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched nationwide, providing easy access to crisis resources. According to the poll, more than half of respondents had heard of 988 and nearly 4 in 5 would reach out to 988 if they or someone they know needed help.

Another new tool is available to young people in Kansas with the hope of reducing the number of youth suicides. “Kansas – A Friends AsKS” is an app with tools and resources that youth can use to help a friend or themselves if they are struggling with thoughts of suicide. The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. You can also download the app on the Kansas Attorney General website.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7. You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 9-8-8 or chatting online at Wyandot BHN’s 24/7 crisis line is available by calling 913-788-4200.