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Suicide: Learn the signs, save a life

Depression and suicide are important topics to discuss. Idaho ranks high for the number of suicides and suicide attempts.

The state was once ranked fifth but has dropped to ninth. Doctors are very concerned recently with the number of youth suicides. That number is not increasing, but awareness is.

There are signs to look out for if you or someone you know may be experiencing depression.

“Isolation, apathy, low energy, kind of a depressed affect. Not taking care of themselves like they typically do. Withdrawing from supports. Sometimes you can see weight loss,” says Eric Pettingill.

“That’s when you see it’s not a one-time thing or an afternoon, it keeps lasting,” says Dr. Matt Larsen, Chairman of Suicide Prevention Action Network.

If you notice a behavioral change in someone you know, talk to them.

“Just ask. Ask how you’re doing, ask what’s going on, just show that you’re there and someone cares. Most of us do, we’re just embarrassed to ask. If you get worried that it keeps going and it’s a kid, I’ll talk to their parents. If it’s a friend, I talk to someone that knows them better than I do,” says Dr. Larsen.

Professionals say that people who experience suicidal thoughts may think life would be better without them. But Pettingill says research shows that’s not the case.

Not everyone who has suicidal thoughts attempts or completes suicide.

“The first part is to know thoughts do not mean actions. It’s a flag, it’s a red flag that says something’s wrong and it’s more than it was before, so talk to somebody. If it’s a kid I’d say start with a school counselor. The school counselor is going to know if it’s too much for them, and they’re going to send you to a therapist in town. The therapist is going to know if it’s too much for them, they’ll send you to the doctor, er or the crisis center,” says Dr. Larsen.

The most important thing if you are having these thoughts is to talk to somebody.

“I’ve worked with thousands of suicidal people and it gets better. I’ve seen them months and years later at the grocery store, at church at a ball game, and life gets better.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or know someone that is, talk to a counselor or at least someone. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone you know, there are helplines you can call.

Signs to look for from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for materials or means Withdrawing from activities Isolating from family and friends Sleeping too much or too little Visiting or calling people to say goodbye Giving away prized possessions Aggression Fatigue

You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK and the Behavioral Crisis Center: (208) 529-6111.

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