Suicide prevention: What you can do to help

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Suicide is something we don’t often report on, but it continues to be a growing problem in America.
Suicide is the second leading killer of young people, ages ten to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Mental health professionals call it a public health crisis.
“This is life or death that we’re talking about. So we really shouldn’t sugarcoat it a lot,” said Dr. Paul Thomlinson, the CEO of Burrell Behavioral Health.
He said, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And that’s what we’re always going to be focusing on. Problems have solutions. Reach out, engage, connect.”
Now, one of the most popular social media websites is encouraging you to do just that.
This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the Facebook Live feature. If your friend is live on Facebook, and you’re concerned they’re going to hurt themselves, there’s something you can do about it right away. You can reach out to them, or report the live stream to get them in touch with professionals.
“Social media is a blessing and a curse,” said Dr. Thomlinson, “We know that social media can make them feel like they’re the scum of the earth, and they have no reason to live. And it can also and exalt and lift up the highest in humanity. And I’ve seen both.”
Here in Springfield, there are mental health first aid classes that you can take for little to no cost through Community Partnership of the Ozarks. Dr. Thomlinson highly recommends the 8-hour class, and he says it can be a useful tool for parents.
“One of the things you learn in that class, is to make sure you get over your squeamishness about talking about it,” he explained.
He says last year suicide killed more people than car wrecks, but most of the time, suicide is preventable.
Thomlinson said, “People who kill themselves, oftentimes see it as a selfless act. Because they believe the world would be better off without them. It’s our job to convince them that they’re wrong.”
If you are considering suicide, or know someone who is, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-8255. See the sidebar for more hotline phone numbers, and links to helpful resources.