World Suicide Prevention Day

This week I’ve shared a lot of information about suicide prevention. As the last day of the blog’s recognition of Suicide Prevention Week, and in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, I want to share just a little more with you.

In November 2015, I joined more than 4.8 million Americans who have been affected by suicide when I lost a friend and colleague to suicide. He was in his late 30s, had served as a law enforcement officer, and had prior military service. He left behind a wife, children, family, and a community that cared about him. I recall at least once if not twice recognizing some of the signs in him, reaching out to him, and trying to connect him to services that he needed. At first, I felt like many survivors – shocked, confused, lost, sad. It would have been easy for me to blame myself for not doing more, and I can imagine that other survivors share that same feeling. However, I hold the optimism that what I was able to do may have prevented an earlier suicide.

It is also why I continue to promote suicide awareness and prevention efforts. I saw the warning signs described in the blog about youth and responded by sharing that I was concerned, asked if he was okay, listened and shared that he’s been heard, and referred him toward professional help. Using this year’s prevention theme, I took cues to connect, communicate, and care by asking outright if he was thinking of suicide, continuing to talk, asking how I could help, and staying available. Finally, I directed him toward veteran specific resources like the local Vet Center.

My story is not unique. It’s important that we all take care of ourselves too. One way to take care of yourself and connect with others is to find an area American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Walk, connect with an AFSP chapter, or locate a support group on the Support Groups in Kansas website or by phone at 1-800-445-0116.

Thank you all for allowing me to share some information, tools, and resources to help you as we all continue to work preventing suicide in our community.

Lindsey Stillwell, LMSW