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World Suicide Prevention Day: How to check in on loved ones

It is important to have an open and direct conversation with a loved one who may be thinking about suicide.

For many, it is a difficult issue to talk about, but it needs to be talked about anyway.

Friday is "World Suicide Prevention Day," and it is a time to bring awareness to the warning signs of suicide and the resources available for those in distress.

Christy Buck of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan says it is important to have an open and direct conversation with a loved one who may be thinking about suicide. 

Buck says it is important for people to educate themselves to end the stigma surrounding suicide. She says it's also important to know what to look for when a loved one needs help. 

Starting the conversation about suicide is key, and Buck says you should be very direct when talking with a loved one and asked them if they are thinking about it.

"Then I'm going to go that next step and tell them I'm more than concerned about you," Buck said. "I'm concerned that you are thinking about taking your life. Are you contemplating suicide? Are you thinking about taking your life? And believe it or not, that question has been proven to save lives."

Buck says some people are afraid that asking someone directly may put the idea in their head, but that is not the case. She says there are some warning signs a person should look for such as:

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss, or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions

Buck says sometimes there may not be any warning signs at all. If you need help here are some links and resources on how to talk about suicide and if you are in trouble, here's the 24-hour Suicide Prevention hotline phone number: 800-273-8255.

Kent County Crisis Map: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:a7114c90-48bb-46bc-8003-ed7dcaedf3d9

What is Mental Health? Video: https://youtu.be/vtVc5YiLMNM

Student-Athlete Mental Health Video: https://youtu.be/8FsnxrIEWdA

Learn the be nice. action plan (available in English and Spanish): https://www.benice.org/take-the-pledge

RELATED: Mental Health Foundation hosts walk to "Stomp Out Stigma" around mental health

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