September is suicide prevention month and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working hard to raise awareness of suicide as a a public health problem.
Suicide rates are rising across the country including in Massachusetts, although our state is one of the more active when it comes to supporting local coalitions - like the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition - and offering education materials and funding.
According to its website MassDPH, uses data “to identify populations and geographic areas of the state that need assistance” and to “support and encourage communities to collaborate across disciplines to prevent suicide and suicide attempts across the lifespan.”
The state recommends six broad steps for the public to take to contribute to suicide prevention efforts.
1. Understand the problem. Take the time to research and understand the scope and impact of suicide in the state. Start here.
2. Know the signs of suicide. Educate yourself about the warning signs, known risk factors, and ways to offer help.
3. Provide support. Be available to offer support to anyone experiencing or seeming to experience thoughts of suicide. Do this through active, non-judgmental listening and helping connect the person to resources and help.
4. Use safe messaging about suicide. Be strategic in your communication around suicide in order to promote resiliency and encourage action to get help.
5. Practice self-care. Suicide prevention includes understanding and prioritizing your own well-being.
6. Get involved. Finally, get involved either at the state level by connecting with the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, or locally, with the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition or Samaritans of FR/NB Inc.
Look for more information on each of these steps in future posts, or check out this resource page for direct information on local organizations that can help.