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Letter: Phone Call Can Change a Life

— We do it every day: call a parent, friend, or loved one. This is so simple and routine that we forget the importance of what one phone call can make to an individual. I am writing today to raise awareness around National Suicide Prevention Week and a local phone number that saves lives every day. The phone number belongs to CrisisLink at 703-527-4077; we answer that number every hour of the day. National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 8-14, 2013 and we want everyone to know there is a safe and caring place to call whenever it is needed.

That call may come from a person who desperately needs help — someone in crisis or even suicidal. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and touches every age group, ethnicity, and gender. Unlike illnesses that doctors can screen for, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone. Although mental illness is the leading cause of suicidal tendencies, it is not the only cause. Your family member, friend, or loved one could be experiencing those thoughts, but you may not realize it as the signs that someone is considering suicide may not be evident. Since the topic of suicide is often taboo, it can be difficult to talk about or ask for help. If this describes you or someone you know, take that first step and call CrisisLink.

It is hard to imagine the feelings that person is experiencing unless you have been through it yourself. The volunteer crisis counselors at CrisisLink are taught active listening, problem solving, and safety planning skills. Sometimes just knowing that someone is there to listen and help with alternatives and referrals can make a difference. Through the power of talking, lives can be saved and the battle over suicide can be won. That’s not to say that everything will be fine — hard work lies ahead. And CrisisLink stands ready to help.

CrisisLink is here to serve the community, whether via our hotline, offering training on warning signs and next steps, to offering a support group to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Last year, 33,521 crisis calls were handled by CrisisLink; of those calls 4,736 were suicidal, and 12 percent required an emergency intervention to insure safety. Asking for help is a sign of strength — call us for listening and support.

CrisisLink thanks Alexandria City, Arlington County, and Fairfax County for declaring Sept. 8-14, 2013 as National Suicide Prevention Week. Information about how you can make a difference can be found at www.crisislink.org

Julia Stephens

Executive Director

CrisisLink