“Suicide Prevention Week” begins Tuesday in Iowa and runs through the 15th. Pat McGovern of the Iowa Department of Public Health says this year’s theme is “Suicide Prevention Is Everyone’s Business.”
He says they are trying to let everyone know they can help others.”That it doesn’t take special skills, special credentials or anything like that to really ask how people are doing,” McGovern says. “I think in Iowa and the midwest in general, we are all pretty good about greeting people with ‘hi how are you doing,’ but we don’t always listen to the responses — it’s just kind of a social nicety.”
McGovern say you can help by being aware of the needs of those around you. “If you see a neighbor or a classmate or a child or a good friend who just seems off. Maybe they’ve had a rough day or may a rough week,” McGovern says. He says follow up with them and ask if there is anything you can do to help.
McGovern says taking that step can be difficult for some people. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, but you think that they are at risk — depending on the situation — if it’s a student you can talk to a guidance counselor or their parents,” McGovern says. “If it’s just a neighbor or somebody you are worried about, there are resources available to make you feel more comfortable about following up with them, or that you can give to them for them to seek some assistance.”
McGovern says people can be hesitant that getting involved might make the situation worth. He says people might think it will push the person over the edge, but he says research and discussions with people who have survived, shows that isn’t the case. McGovern says it may actually give them hope to take steps to right whatever’s going on in their lives,” he says.
McGovern says if you see someone you think is in immediate danger of committing suicide, you should call 911. Otherwise getting involved will help. “Research has shown that if we can even day delay by just as little as 30 seconds to a minute, between when the overwhelming urge to follow through on suicide hits, if we can just delay that a little bit, we can work through what is going on,” according to McGovern.
The Iowa Department of Public Health shows 445 Iowans died by suicide in 2013. To get help, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may also contact Your Life Iowa at (855)-581-8111 or go to www.yourlifeiowa.org, or by texting HELP to 85511 from 3:00 to 11:00 P.M. daily.