Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Suicide Prevention Program coordinator Pat McGovern says there’s a simple goal.
“Really just wanting to raise awareness that suicide is an issue that affects many, many Iowans, many more than I think most people understand or believe,” McGovern says.
Health Department statistics show suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all Iowans and the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year-olds and those ages 25 to 44. McGovern says you can help prevent a suicide by reaching out to friends, family and co-workers. He says it’s not always easy.
“It really depends on your relationship, itis different if a really good friend or a family member who you are really comfortable with — as compared to someone who you might work with and might socialize with at work — but not be friends with outside of work. So, it really does depend on the relationship,” according to McGovern. He says it is important to take action regardless of the relationship
“The really bottom line is that it’s okay to ask someone how they are doing. It’s even okay to say ‘are you thinking about suicide, are you thinking about taking your own life?,'” McGovern says. “Again, that’s not a comfortable thing, that’s not something that comes naturally to most people. I am in that group. But it is okay to ask that. If someone is suicidal, asking them that question is not going to make them more suicidal.” McGovern says asking someone about the issue could start a conversation that lets them know there is help available.
He says addressing thoughts of suicide isn’t something you have to tackle on your own. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800- 273-TALK or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may also contact Your Life Iowa by calling 855-581-8111, texting 855-895-8398 (2:00 to 10 p.m. Central) or visiting www.yourlifeiowa.org. McGovern says there are often signs that someone is considering suicide.
“There are, and normally it’s not just one thing. We all have ups and downs, some days we are happier than others and that can be caused by any number of variables,” he says, “and feeling suicidal is the same way. It’s not just one thing in a vacuum. It’s normally a constellation of events or feelings or experiences.”
For more information about how to help someone, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website at: idph.iowa.gov.