A call to action for suicide prevention

National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 7-13, with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. A recent report, “The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin,” released in 2014 covering data from 2007- 2011, signifies that suicide remains a significant public health concern in our state.

Suicide does not discriminate against age, gender, socio-economic status, religion or race as it remains the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in both the United States and Wisconsin. The costs of suicide to our society and communities are great. More so, the pain and suffering experienced by families and friends who lose a loved one to suicide are immeasurable.

So, we recognize suicide is a problem. You might be thinking, “Now what? What can I do to help prevent suicide?”

Suicide prevention is made up of a combination of efforts that goes beyond direct interventions to stop a suicide. Suicide prevention can encompass treating depression and mental illness (both psychological and psychophysiological symptoms), improving coping strategies of those who may be otherwise seriously considering suicide, reducing risk factors of suicide, and most importantly, giving people hope for a better life.

You can make a difference in some- one’s life by educating yourself.

Learn the warning signs of suicide — threatening to or talking about wanting to die, increased apathy and hopeless- ness, poor eating and sleeping habits, withdrawal from friends or family.

Know the resources to support someone who may be suicidal — Sheboygan County Crisis Line 920-459-3151, National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273- TALK (8255), or Mental Health America in Sheboygan County 920-458-3951 for information and referrals to a local mental health professional.

Be empathetic. Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Are you suicidal?” Too often individuals have deep concerns about loved ones but are not comfortable in asking the question or when someone shares their suicidal thoughts, it is meant with a judgmental response.

If you want to learn more about suicide prevention efforts in our community, please join me at a free training, open to the public from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday Sept. 23 called “QPR; Question, Persuade, & Refer.” QPR is an evidence-based sui- cide prevention training for everyone where you can learn the warning signs, how to talk to someone contemplating su- icide, and how you can intervene to help.

To register visit www.mhasheboygan.org or call 920-458-3951.

Lastly, if you have lost a loved one by suicide, please know you are welcome to join us for a newly formed peer-led, Suicide Loss Support Group, which meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month, beginning Sept. 29 at United Way of Sheboygan County, 2020 Eire Ave.

Be well friends. Together, we truly can make a difference in giving hope and saving lives.


Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and member of Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health Committee.