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Help prevent preventable deaths

I recently participated in a seminar on  “Recognizing and Responding to Warning Signs of Suicide Risk in Clients and Colleagues” and felt what I learned was worth passing along:
It always seems like a surprise and shock when a friend, colleague, or family member takes his or her own life, but there are warning signs that you can be on the lookout for.  When you notice a change in behavior affecting several of these factors, there is action you can take to help forestall a suicide.

The following warning signs will help you identify someone who is at increased risk for suicide:
-Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
-Withdrawing from friends and family; feeling isolated.
-Feeling hopeless or seeing no reason to live.
-Talking about feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.
-Talking about being a burden to others.
-Making statements about feeling worthless, meaningless, or purposeless.
-Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
-Having sleep problems.
-Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
-Looking for a way to kill oneself (e.g., searching online for a gun purchase).
-Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
-Displaying extreme or dramatic mood swings.
-Loss of interest in work, clients, usual attachments.
-Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.

What to Do if You Notice Someone Exhibiting Signs of Suicide Risk:

1. Open a dialogue. Asking questions will help you to determine if your friend, employee or colleague is in immediate danger. Always take thoughts of suicide, or plans for suicide seriously.
-Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. Ask, “Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?” or “Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?”
-Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings.
-Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Lecturing (for example, on the value of life) or being shocked will put distance between you.
-Be available. Show interest and support. Let him or her know you want them to continue living.
-Offer hope that alternatives are available.
-Take action.

2. Do not leave the person alone, if you think that person might harm him or herself, until the next steps are accomplished.

3. Let them know you are going to do what you can to help them.

4. While they are with you, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk(8255) to be connected to the nearest available crisis center for a referral to local mental health resources.

5. If the person at risk is a lawyer friend, you should similarly call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk(8255) AND also refer the colleague to the state’s Lawyer Assistance Program.

Remember that suicide is a permanent “solution” to a problem that is only temporary. If you follow these guidelines, you may be more help than you know. Don’t be blind-sided by a friend’s preventable death.

More information is available at – This is the website for the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). The goal of AAS is to understand and prevent suicide by promoting research, public awareness programs, education, and training for professionals and volunteers. AAS serves as a national clearinghouse for information on to edit.

I realize this blog post isn’t about patents, trademarks, or intellectual property, but like those, it is about making the world a happier place, a little bit at a time.