LA CROSSE, Wis. ― Suicide is among the top ten leading causes of death in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Unlike many diseases, the warning signs aren't always obvious. They may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse will light its Cancer and Surgery Center on West Avenue in yellow the evening of Friday, Sept. 10 in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day.
This international awareness day is an opportunity to raise awareness about suicide and to promote action to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally. It is estimated that one in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide, per the Internation Association for Suicide Prevention.
"There are a couple of important things that people can to do help someone who may be suicidal, whether you are a friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, or community member," says Julie Conway, clinical therapist at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. "First, reach out to a person who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Let them know that you care and want to help."
Suicidal thoughts have many causes. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like a person can't cope when they're faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation.
"We want the public to educate themselves with suicide risk factors, protective factors, warning signs, and what to do to help," adds Conway. "Risk factors, such as trauma, loneliness, despair, don't predict suicide but brings awareness of someone who may consider suicide. Watch for warning signs, which are behaviors often indicating a likelihood that a person is considering suicide."
Conway says reckless behavior, talking about wanting to die, withdrawing from friends or activities, giving away valued possessions or increased drug or alcohol use are all warning signs that should not be ignored.
"If you think someone is potentially suicidal listen to them, get involved without judging. Ask them directly if they are considering suicide or want to die. Remove or secure all risks such as guns, ammunition, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications and assist them in seeking professional help. If someone is verbalizing suicidal thoughts call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency department," adds Conway.
Most importantly, get help right away. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day — press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or use Lifeline Chat. You can also text "HOME" to 741-741.
The campus lighting program brings attention to health-related causes and recognizes significant local and national events. For more information, email Community Engagement.
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Press ContactRick Thiesse