Guest Column: How to give a helping hand to someone in crisis
Picture a glass of water, full to the brim. Imagine what happens when somebody adds one, maybe two, drops.
When the water spills, do you look at the glass and think that it obviously should have been better balanced and able to hold more? Do you blame those last few drops for the overflow? Or do you think about what could have kept the cup from getting so full in the first place?
Now picture that glass is held by someone you care about, and they're reaching out for help. Who among us wouldn't take a moment to pour out some water and provide some relief?
Every 40 seconds. That is how often someone dies by suicide, with nearly 800,000 deaths globally per year. Each September, suicide survivors and suicide prevention professionals and advocates around the world dedicate Suicide Prevention Month to raising awareness and – more importantly – taking action to fight this public health issue.
Suicide is one of the most preventable kinds of deaths, if we take action. Here are a few ways you can help someone in need.
Sign up for free QPR training
QPR stands for "question, persuade and refer" – three simple steps to help save a life from suicide. Just as people train in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, you can train in QPR to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and get someone help. Register for an upcoming training session.
Bookmark local and national resources
Then, take 30 seconds to put the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) into your phone contacts. You might even call the number yourself so you can explain the process later if you need to.
Join with your community
Register for the Arizona Out of the Darkness Experience, organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, to join with people who have experienced suicide loss or dealt with thoughts of suicide, and others who want to make progress in the fight to save lives.
If you're worried about a friend who is also a colleague at the University, ask if they would be willing to sit down with you and dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) together. If texting makes more sense for the situation or the person, show them how to connect to a crisis counselor 24/7 through the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. And if you see a student who's struggling, the Counseling & Psych Services team at Campus Health provides help to concerned faculty and staff members through the Call & Consult program.
If someone you know is in active crisis, call 911 and request a response from a crisis intervention team, if one is available.
Suicide is a serious topic, but it doesn't have to be uncomfortable. Over the past several months, we've all explored creative ways to reach out and connect. Let's use that creativity and stay ready to learn and help. Those people you reach out to will thank you for making their glass a little less full. I was once one of them, and without resources like these, I wouldn't be here today. You can make a difference.
Chad Myler is the health promotion manager at Life & Work Connections, where he oversees programs that impact the population health of University of Arizona employees. He holds a master's degree in health promotion from the University of Utah and is a certified health education specialist.
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A version of this article originally appeared on the Life & Work Connections website.