By Lauren Pastrana


MIAMI (CBSMiami) — September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

In 2017, more than 47,000 people in the US died by suicide, and it’s one of the few top causes of death that’s actually been on the rise in recent years.

It’s important to know the warning signs, but also the action steps you can take to help someone in distress.

Today’s “Lauren’s List” breaks down those steps that could save a life.

  1. ASK- According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. And when you ask, be sure to really listen. You can also ask, “How can I help?” but don’t promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.
  1. KEEP THEM SAFE- Ensuring that person’s immediate safety is key. Have they attempted suicide before? Do they already have a plan? If so, you may need to take quick action like calling authorities or taking them to the emergency department of help.  A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.
  1. BE THERE- This can take on many forms. You can be physically present for someone, speak with them on the phone when you can, or simply send reminders of some kind to show they have your support. Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long-term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide. However, it’s important that you commit to anything you are not willing or able to accomplish.
  1. HELP THEM CONNECT- Sometimes, there’s only so much you can do and delicate issues such as suicide and mental health require expert care. Help your love one connect with the resources they need to establish ongoing support. One of the best numbers to keep handy is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.  In Broward, call 211 or (954) 537-0211 and in Miami-Dade, call (305) 358-HELP (4357).

After all these steps, be sure to follow up! Keep that connection going. Evidence shows even a quick text or Facebook message to show the person you’re thinking of them can potentially reduce the risk for suicide.

Lauren Pastrana

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