September is the month for raising awareness of suicide prevention, a campaign sponsored by the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline and supported by mental health advocates across the country.
Swope Health supports the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline and the suicide prevention campaign year-round.
In 2022, in Missouri, the 988 hotline handled more than 38,000 calls, texts and chats. Yet still more than 1,200 Missourians died by suicide in 2022.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Missourians age 18-34. Missouri, with the 19th highest suicide rate in the country, consistently sees suicide rates higher than those in the United States as a whole. In Missouri, 66 percent of suicides involved firearms.
The goal of the suicide awareness prevention campaign is to spread tips and understanding about actions you can take to promote healing, provide help, and give hope to anyone experiencing a crisis.
“A quote I really like says, ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always,’” said Laurie Cox, director of Crisis Services at Swope Health.
“The important thing is to take our eyes off our phones and really look at people,” she said. “Pay attention to those around us. Just acknowledging someone can save a life, can give someone the hope they need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
The campaign this year, called “Be the 1 to…,” focuses on five specific actions available to everyone.
BE THE 1 TO:
ASK: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks about them in a caring way.” You can be the one to show you care.
BE THERE: After asking, take the time to listen, without judgment. Just the act of listening can be empowering and reduce feelings of depression. You can be the one who offers that calm path away from being overwhelmed.
KEEP THEM SAFE: You can support a person in crisis by making sure lethal means are not readily available. For someone with suicidal thoughts, the steps required to gain access to locked weapons can be time enough to slow down and refocus.
HELP THEM STAY CONNECTED: You can help by tapping your network, community resources, and mental health professionals, such as at Swope Health. For someone at risk, knowing that resources are available can be a spark for positive action.
FOLLOW UP: You can stay in touch and check in with the at-risk individual after the crisis has abated. It can be a phone call or text, just to see how they’re doing. It’s an act of caring that can make a difference.
HOW WE CAN HELP:
Swope Health provides comprehensive behavioral health services, including crisis intervention, therapy, substance use treatment and an array of programs to assist with transportation, housing, nutrition, healthcare, education and employment. We also have a mobile unit that provides services in the community.
Call 816-922-1070 to request an appointment or more information. Swope Health has a walk-in process for new clients, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 3 pm.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis or suicidal thoughts, call 988. This is a 7X24 free emergency line for access to a trained crisis counselor.
FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE PREVENTION
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
- Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- In 2021, more than 48,000 Americans died by suicide.
- In 2021, firearms accounted for 54 percent of suicide deaths.
- 94 percent of Americans believe suicides can be prevented.
It starts with you! Learn more about steps you can take to help anyone coping with a crisis.