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Reader's View: Suicide, a public health issue, is preventable

From the letter: "Just as many people know first aid, people need to know the warning signs of suicide."

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide rates in Minnesota declined slightly in 2020, but it's important to remember there were a record number of suicides in 2019, and this is the sixth year in a row where more than 700 Minnesotans have died by suicide.

There are far too many deaths, and many families are devastated by these deaths.

Just as many people know first aid, people need to know the warning signs of suicide and what to do. Some of the warning signs include previous suicide attempts; statements revealing a desire to die; expressions of hopelessness or having no reason to live; prolonged depression or being very sad; sudden changes in behavior; unexplained anger, aggression, or irritability; withdrawing from friends and family; giving away prized possessions; changes in eating or sleeping habits; and using drugs or alcohol more often.

If you are worried about yourself, a family member, or a friend, know that caring help is available. There is hope. People can now call or text 988 to be connected to a trained counselor. All Minnesota counties have a mobile mental health crisis team that can help in a crisis. And in Minnesota, 911 operators are supposed to link people to the mobile crisis team if appropriate.

NAMI Minnesota offers several suicide-prevention classes during September, including QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), which teaches the three steps anyone can take to help prevent suicide. A special panel via Zoom will be held Sept. 9 to help people understand the cultural considerations when addressing suicide prevention.

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Suicide is a public health issue and is preventable. Please join in the efforts to save lives. Learn more about the steps you can take and the resources in your community.

Sue Abderholden

St. Paul
The writer is executive director of NAMI Minnesota (namimn.org), the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national nonprofit.
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