With a Little Learning, You Can Reduce Suicides

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Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Lissa Voorhees and Sandy Moses

Not that long ago there was a great amount of stigma and silence surrounding the "Big C" - cancer. People were afraid to mention the word, to reach out to those with a cancer diagnosis, and as a result misinformation was rampant. Thanks to nationwide awareness and education campaigns, we are more compassionate, understanding and supportive when we find out someone is living with cancer. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental illness and certainly suicide, we have a long way to go. Not speaking openly and without judgment about depression, mental health and suicide only increases the stigma and discourages those in need to get help.

With National Suicide Prevention Week taking place Sept. 9-15, it's the perfect time to reiterate the fact that suicide is preventable. There is help for those who struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other factors that increase the incidence of suicidal behavior and chances are you or someone you know will at some time need this help.

It may not be common knowledge that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationally; that Oregon rates are 35 percent higher than the U.S. rate; and that suicide is the second leading cause of all deaths of Oregon youth ages 10-24. Yet, we still tend to hide our heads in the sand and hope that suicide will not touch our lives. It's even difficult for most of us to say the "S-word" much less act upon our gut feeling that someone might be having suicidal thoughts. On the contrary, many, if not most of us, know someone who has attempted or died by suicide.

Being aware of the risk factors and warning signs of depression and suicide is the first step in helping someone who is in so much pain they will seek any possible way to relieve it. It is our responsibility to be aware, informed and to reach out - even though we might be uncomfortable and fearful. …