The numbers are staggering. In the United States, one person dies by suicide every 18 minutes. It is estimated that 5 million people in the United States have lost a loved one to suicide in the past 25 years. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of all deaths in the United States, and mental health problems will strike one in five adults each year. In Fairfax County alone last year, there were over 110 suicides. As overwhelming as the problem may feel, we can all take small steps to help those struggling and help them find hope.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 and 25, and the second leading cause of death for college students. That’s why the Fairfax – Falls Church Community Service Board (CSB) has partnered with CrisisLink to make it easier for adolescents and young adults in our community to just text their thoughts and concerns. This option provides prompt response, counsel and referral using technology familiar to this age group. CrisisLink is adapting to more readily help those in trouble. All they have to do is text NEED HELP to 703-940-0888.
Hope is also just a phone call away. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a dedicated phone number for those feeling lost: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Crisislink is available at 703-527-4077. Last year, CrisisLink handled 2,699 calls including follow-up calls to those at high risk. Of those calls, 311 were suicide related and required de-escalation by a Volunteer Crisis Counselor. Another option for help is the local the PRS CrisisLink website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Fairfax County Public Schools are also educating teachers, mentor, coaches and parents on how to recognize signs that youth might be in trouble. Take a moment to explore these two websites, http://fairfax.kognito.com/ and http://bit.ly/1m66X0R if you are involved with students in our community.
Most importantly for those struggling, I urge you to talk to someone you love, even when you don’t think anyone can make you feel better. There are more people than you know willing to listen.
If you are chosen by someone looking for support, listen with your heart. You don’t have to solve the problem, just hear the person out. Give them the resources listed here. If you are looking for more information about how to be prepared to help loved ones struggling, there is a very helpful video to help answer some of your questions at http://bit.ly/1D0ixjb. At one point or another, we will all need some help, and it is okay to ask.