We can all play a role in preventing suicide throughout Central Wisconsin

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, and this year the Waushara County Health Department is teaming up with five other Health and Human Services Department and a Federally Qualified Health Center in the central Wisconsin region to help promote the national #BeThe1To Campaign to prevent suicide.

Brenna Root, Waushara County Health Department Health Educator, states, “This campaign was created by the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it highlights the fact that we can all play a role in preventing suicide deaths in our communities. We all want to help people in our lives who may be experiencing a crisis or thinking about suicide, sometimes it is hard to know what to do. This campaign gives five actionable steps that we can all take to help save a life.”

Suicide rates have been increasing in almost every state in the country, including Wisconsin. To help reverse that trend, it is important to know how to respond to a friend or family member who may be thinking about suicide.

Saving a life is possible by following these five steps:

1. Ask—Ask the tough question. When somebody you know is in emotional pain, ask them directly: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

2. Keep them safe—If someone you know is thinking about suicide, ask them if they have thought about how they would do it and then separate them from anything they could use to harm themselves.

3. Be there—Listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Listen with compassion and empathy and without dismissing or judging.

4. Help them connect—Help your friend connect to a support system (whether it’s 800-273-TALK (8255), or family, friends, clergy, coaches, co-workers, or therapists), so they have a network to reach out to for help.

5. Check in with the person you care about on a regular basis. Making contact with a friend in the days and weeks after a crisis can make a difference in keeping them alive.

Preventing suicide involves everyone in the community. Health care systems, employers, schools, media, public health, and community members all play an important part in suicide prevention. Let’s all #BeThe1To help prevent suicide in Waushara County. For more information on suicide prevention, visit: www.BeThe1To.com.

To talk with a counselor for free 24/7, dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line), or text CONNECT to 741741. Waushara County Crisis Unit: M-F, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. call 920-787-6618, after hours call 920-787-3321 and ask for the on-call crisis worker. If you or someone you know is facing an immediate suicidal situation, dial 911.