September is recognized as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Prevention efforts begin with normalizing conversations around mental health and empowering all community members to help themselves and others who may be experiencing emotional distress or crisis.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, 988 is a free resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
- You can call or text 988, or use the online chat at www.988lifeline.org
- Services are for mental health and substance abuse support.
- 988 provides someone to talk to and referrals to other services as needed, 24 hours/day.
- Presently 9-8-8 routes calls to local support centers based on the caller’s area code and not their location in the community. In the future geolocator features will be added for more localized routing.
- 988 is not like 911 in that the dispatch function has not yet been built out. For a life-threatening emergency call 911.
The SOS Suicide Prevention program used in Arlington Public Schools teaches students how to respond when someone around them says or does something that could be seen as a desire to hurt themselves. In these instances, students and community members are encouraged to “Acknowledge. Care. Tell.” or “ACT.”:
- We acknowledge the person’s feelings and let them know that we hear or see them.
- We share how much we care about them and value them.
- We tell someone about the concern.
In schools, students, teachers and families can reach out to school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers when they need to talk about a concerning situation or share that they are worried about someone.Similarly, the Virginia Department of Education, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health, has launched “Recognize. Talk. Act.” — a campaign to eliminate stigma and prevent suicide. This campaign is aligned with the Acknowledge Care Tell (ACT) message of SOS Suicide Prevention program used in APS. Highlights from “Recognize. Talk. Act.” include: It is the responsibility of every community member to work towards supporting our neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues. By doing so, we can normalize conversations around mental health, reduce harmful stigma surrounding suicide and suicide loss, and create environments that value all. Although every situation is different, there are times when those around us may show signs prior to attempting to take their life. You can learn to recognize when those around you may be in need of help. Some signs include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
If you notice any of these signs, please reach out to a helping professional at your school. Everyone has a role to play. Learn more about the program at: www.recognizetalkact.org