September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month and although suicide is a sensitive topic, it is not one that can be avoided. Death by suicide remains the 11th leading cause of death in Connecticut with someone dying on average every 22 hours. It is the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds in our state. Once seen as a behavioral health problem or circumstance, it is now known to be a public health issue with many people never being diagnosed or in treatment previous to their demise.
Suicide has a far reaching impact to communities, friends, families, colleagues, who are often riddled with questions and even tremendous guilt following a person's untimely passing. As the media has reported on several deaths by suicide in the last year, it only highlights the need to debunk the myth that suicide is only a risk for those with acute psychiatric illness. It also emphasizes the need to address education, awareness, and prevention efforts to the entire population, not just behavioral health professionals.
Most survivors of attempts report they did not wish to die, but were attempting to escape what they believed to be indelible emotional and/or physical pain. There has been a stigma associated with reaching out for help or revealing thoughts or plans for suicide that we must continue to challenge in order to save lives. One way to overcome historic barriers is to have a community that believes suicide is preventable. Helping people identify treatment options and sources of hope is a key in prevention. QPR, nationally-recognized suicide prevention training is offered through many community agencies.
Bristol Hospital is offering QPR training free to the community at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, Oct.16 at 5:30 pm in the Bristol Hospital Hughes Auditorium. No registration is necessary. If you have been impacted by suicide or want to be involved in national efforts to raise awareness and funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention join the Bristol community in the Out of the Darkness walk which takes place at 11 am on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Rockwell Park.
It is a myth that asking about suicide will give someone the idea and put them more at risk. If you are worried about someone, please let them know you care. Ask them directly if they are considering suicide. If they say yes, helping them get to a professional can save a life. Suicide is preventable and help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) offers 24 hour support. The Crisis Text Line offers 24 hour support via texting HOME to 741741.
Rebecca Colasanto, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and system director of behavioral health at Bristol Hospital and Healthcare Group.