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What you need to know to help prevent suicide

A medical doctor writing in Psychology Today wants to make suicide prevention responses as well known as CPR training or the Heimlich maneuver.

In his Aug. 1 article, Dr. Robert Smith writes that mental health emergencies should be treated with the same urgency as physical ones.

Citing the 45,000 suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2016, he points out that someone must do something about these tragedies, and that that someone is each of us.

“Just as everyone needs to be skilled in physical disease emergencies, so, in my opinion, should we all be skilled in identifying suicidal thoughts in others—and ensuring they receive immediate professional attention. After all, your skills handling suicidal emergencies most likely will involve people who are close to you, “ Smith writes here.

The full article is worth reading for its thorough list of identifying clues for suicide that should trigger a response in others, and also for a step-by-step guide to having a conversation with someone who might be suicidal, including what it means to show empathy and how to raise the subject of suicide itself.

If you’re concerned that by mentioning suicide you might somehow trigger the desire in someone else, Smith says don’t be. “The old adage that asking about suicide puts the thought into a person’s mind is not correct. It’s perfectly okay and safe to ask,” he writes.

Take a moment to read Smith’s description of what a conversation with a person who might be considering suicide could sound like. As he acknowledges, it is a difficult and scary prospect to ask someone about suicidal intent, but having the tools to raise the subject and get someone the help they need can help save lives.

And that’s what Smith is writing to do.

“My goal here is to provide you with the tools and motivation to save these lives,” he says. “Try it. If you take the risk, you will save a life, often someone close to you. “

Read the full article here.

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