By Gary Schreiner, PhD, Behavioral Health Manager

September is Suicide Awareness Month, but it is very important that we all consider twelve months of the year as suicide awareness months. The Western Slope of Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the United States.

If you feel like you don’t want to live anymore because of your current circumstances, allow a professional the chance to help you. You will have a lot to gain and nothing to lose.

How do you know someone is suicidal? Here are questions to consider: are there any recent significant losses in the person’s life, such as a partner? Is this person giving away prized possessions? Is this person speaking to you like they are saying goodbye? Is this person withdrawing from friends and family? A primary indicator of suicide is when a person feels alone and not loved. This can happen even to someone with a big family.

How can you help? Don’t be afraid to ask what is wrong and then listen without judgement. Help the person feel needed. Showing empathy works much better than giving advice. When in doubt, help the person get to a mental health professional who can help.

If you are having an emergency or need help right now, please call a local hotline 888-207-4004 or Colorado’s statewide hotline at 844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255. Or, call 911. To schedule a behavioral health appointment with Mountain Family, please call 970-945-2840. Another good resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).