How YOU can be the 20 seconds, advice from a UVU student

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Suicide is a public mental health issue that affects many. According to the Utah Department of Health, 10 people end their own life every day.

Utah has the fifth highest suicide rate in the U.S, and this rate is steadily increasing. In 2016, 32 people between the ages of 10 and 17 ended their life. Research has proven that 20 seconds can make a change in whether someone takes their life or not.

It is still a taboo, and often times perceived as shameful to talk openly about suicidal thoughts, but UVU encourages you to help people find a reason to stay alive. Here are some tips on how you can be a trustworthy person and how you can notice signs of suicidal thoughts.

How to identify warning signs:

1) Focusing on death: Some people talk openly about wanting to die, and they may research ways to kill themselves.
2) Making plans: People at risk may prepare to be gone/dead. They say goodbye to loved ones and give away their personal things.
3) Isolating: The person often isolates themselves from close family and friends. They often do not want to attend social activities or events.
4) Showing despair: The individual talks about a strong burden on themself or unbearable pain
5) Shifting mood: The person has an unstable mood. In one moment he or she is angry or aggressive, seconds later they are sad or depressed. When the mood shifts suddenly, stops, and the person seems to be calm, he or she often has made the decision to end their life.
6) Drinking or taking drugs: Persons at risk tend to reduce the emotional pain with substances or want to harm themselves. A high usage of these drugs can also increase the risk of suicide by overdose.
7) Acting recklessly: The person has nothing to lose and has decided that suicide is the only way to get rid of the pain, so no more harm can happen. He or she is willing to take risks and last chances.

How you can be the 20 seconds:

1) Listen. Do not hesitate to ask. Be the rock in struggling times.
2) Connect to help and support programs.
– You can text “START” to 741741 to connect them with a counselor at Crisis Text Line anonymously and they connect you to center near you
– You can either call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) (24-hour service) or Wasatch Mental Health 801-373-7393 (24-hour service)
– You can call The Trevor Project (LGBTQ friendly) 1-866-488-7386 or visit online chat/text option
– You can make an appointment at the Student Health Services and talk to a mental health professional

3) Be careful with your language but also focus on asking about their suicidal thoughts.. Even if the person hates you in that moment, he or she will thank you later.
4) Individuals with thoughts of suicide seek help in silence, but try to notice symptoms so that you can be the help they are seeking.

Regardless of which stage of suicidal behavior this person might be, just listen and be there. Sometimes the desperate individual needs a moment to take a step back and breathe. That is all it takes to give them a reason to stay.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s a free, 24-hour hotline, at 1-800-273-8255.

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