Mental health promotion, suicide prevention
Last week, our research and outreach specialists at K-State shared with us an update on ongoing work related to mental health in Kansas. A strength and resilience team is working to train extension educators in Kansas in Mental Health First Aid, which several of our team members have taken, and the QPR program. QPR stands for Ask, Persuade and Refer and targets suicide prevention training.
Since September 4-10 is designated as National Suicide Prevention Week, this seems like the perfect place to provide some basic information about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. It also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance, as going to therapy should be as normalized as going to the gym.
Some of the things you can do this week to observe suicide prevention would be:
1) Raise awareness – One of the most helpful and effective ways to observe Suicide Prevention Week is to raise awareness about the cause. We need to reduce the stigma around it so that more people can seek help.
2) Find out – The best thing we can do is learn more about ourselves. We need to educate ourselves and facilitate proactive prevention in our communities to break the silence around our mental health. About a year ago, my husband John and I began attending meetings of the Suicide Prevention Task Force. We always come back from meetings feeling like, “Wow, I had no idea.” Hearing from family members who have lost loved ones to suicide is heartbreaking, but in the safe space of our meetings, I know it is an important part of the healing process.
3) Pay attention to others – Many people with mental health issues do not seek help for fear of being judged or misunderstood. We need to watch out for others and check for warning signs. Find ways to help people feel heard and understood.
Some of the warning signs of suicide include:
• Talking about feeling hopeless or aimless
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increase the consumption of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, restless or reckless
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Lifeline on 988 or text SAVE to 741741 for free, anonymous crisis counseling 24/7.
Donna Krug is District Director and Family and Consumer Science Officer at K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You can reach her at (620)793-1910 or [email protected]