By Maureen Mulligan
Special to The SUN
September is Suicide Awareness Month. Did you know that, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one person dies by suicide every eight hours in Colorado? We rank 10th in the nation for death by suicide. Overall, suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado. Most disturbingly, it is the second leading cause of death for persons ages 15-44.
Do you know the warning signs for suicidal behavior? Most people believe the only symptom is a person’s threats to hurt or kill themselves. However, recent losses, feelings of hopelessness, dramatic changes in mood, withdrawing from social situations and difficulty sleeping, or sleeping all the time, are just some things to watch for in friends and relatives. A new health diagnosis or worsening symptoms of an existing health issue may also contribute to suicidal thinking.
If someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms or if you just notice that something is “off,” please reach out to them. A common myth is that if you ask about suicidal thoughts, it will cause the person to consider suicide as an option. The exact opposite is true. Asking about suicide may put the person at ease and help them to open up about their feelings.
During September, Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) will be seeking to educate the public about this crisis. When you come to PSMC, we will have information available regarding suicide warning signs and coping skills. We will also have a Caring Board where you can add a ribbon in memory of someone who has died by suicide; to show support for a friend or loved one who struggles, or had struggled, with suicidal thoughts; or for yourself if you’re having trouble coping with your own thoughts.
The ribbons will be provided and you will not be asked anything regarding your reasons for placing the ribbon. If you choose to write your loved one’s name on the ribbon, that is solely your choice. If participating in this causes strong emotions, please ask to speak with a behavioral health specialist or the hospital social worker.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. You can contact any one of the following for help:
• Our local crisis line at 247-5245.
• State crisis line at (884) 493-8255.
• Text “Talk” to 38255.
• National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.
• Call 911.
• Report to your local emergency department.