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Suicide prevention is a community effort

Posted at 8:35 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:35:18-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Health officials say it’s important to talk to someone when you are dealing with anxiety or experiencing a crisis. That someone can be different for teens as compared to adults.

September is Teen Suicide Awareness Month, and officials in Chesterfield, Virginia are asking people like Alicia Amsler, who runs Alicia’s Salon and Day Spa, to look out for the signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health or thinking about suicide.

Melissa Ackley and Chesterfield’s mental support services are spearheading an effort this month to raise awareness in the larger community. She says adults who have sustained contact with young people are in a position to recognize when something’s wrong, and need to know to look, and more importantly, to act.

“Traditionally, when we think of who’s going to help in a mental health crisis, we think a doctor or a mental health professional,” said Ackley. “But if you even think for yourself, and who would I talk to if I had a mental health concern? It’s probably neither of those people, right?”

Ackley says people, and particularly young people, are more likely to open up to people who are already in their natural support systems, like clergy members, friends, and potentially even their hairstylists.

It is important for anyone who has sustained contact with young people to learn the signs of suicide and be ready to intervene. The Mayo Clinic has a few suggestions for parents and the community about warning signs, such as engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, as well as what kinds of questions to ask to help the person talk about it.

Anyone who suspects that a teenager or anyone else in their life is contemplating suicide should talk to them immediately about it, and don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide.” The Mayo Clinic says talking about suicide won’t plant the idea in anyone’s head. In fact, getting it out into the open may very well save their life.

Teens in crisis, their parents and families, or anyone who is concerned about a person they know possibly considering suicide can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988.

For Spanish language mental health crisis assistance, call toll-free at 1-888-628-9454.