GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Andrew Boekestein is a licensed counselor at Network 180 who says mental health and suicide prevention go hand-in-hand.
"People come to Network 180 often in some kind of crisis and probably most of the time they come to us they are contemplating suicide," says Boekestein.
According to America's Health Rankings annual report, Michigan's suicide has been increasing since 2012.
"We've seen an uptick in suicides and suicide attempts for really all age and demographic groups, including even children and tweens and teens and young adults all the way up to the elderly," says Boekestein.
The reason is unclear but Boekestein says the key to prevention is to detect behavior early.
"Probably the people who can prevent suicide the most are loved ones of somebody who is struggling. They are going to catch it way before a doctor or a teacher or a mental health professional because they have the relationship and they can notice when somebody is not acting normal" says Boekestein.
He also says you can't be afraid of the uncomfortable conversation.
"There is this myth that if you bring it up it'll put it in their head and they'll be more likely to complete suicide but that's completely false, people are looking to share this burden with somebody." says Boekestein.
Mental health funding continues to be a challenge but last month Governor Gretchen Whitmer did create a commission for suicide prevention.
"It really magnifies the effort of everybody if we have leadership and I think the best place for that to come from is from the state government," says Boekestein.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
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