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James Donaldson on Mental Health – 12-Year-Old’s Suicide: Can We Stop Ignoring Kids’ Mental Health?

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

Teen Photos

 

 

Relentless humiliation and rebuke from her science teacher over the last few months allegedly forced a Class 7 student to kill herself, the police told news agency IANS. the teacher allegedly scolded her in front of the entire class and called her “characterless”.

The 12-year-old girl from a Delhi school hanged herself from a ceiling fan at her home on 1 December. Her suicide is yet another case of a student taking the final step.

She had scribbled her teacher’s name on her palms and hands and left a note explaining the reason she took the extreme step. She wrote that she does not want to go to school anymore.

The police add that in the note, she apologised to her mother and grandmother and on one of her palms wrote “I love you”. The mother, an advocate, found her daughter’s body after returning from work around 4pm.

 

Also Read : Another Student Suicide: A List of Prevention Helplines To Call

Photo is for representational purposes only.
Photo is for representational purposes only.
(Photo: iStock)

 

“She had been insisting that I change her school but I did not know how serious the situation was. I never imagined she would take the step of suicide,” the mother said, sobbing.

While the police is investigating the case and the school authorities say they’re cooperating, we have to start understanding where we go wrong with kids’ mental health woes.

Also Read : With Serious Lack of School Counsellors, Are We Failing Our Kids?

Where Do We Go Wrong?

India has perhaps the worst teen suicide rate in the world, where one student dies by suicide every hour. We’re known as the suicide capital of the world, with 63,000 annual suicides in the age group of 10-24. Thus, the role of school counsellors, and safe spaces for children to talk, becomes even more important. And that is where we fail.

First, we lack miserably in respecting boundaries of teenagers or their privacy and decisions. This makes them feel isolated and targeted. If a teacher was harassing the girl about a boy she was friends with, why was there no school authority or counsellor to whom she could go and discuss this with?

Why do we not teach our children that they will not be punished for talking about their problems? This lack of trust can be damaging. There are so many issues that these kids are facing, academic pressure, bullying, loneliness. There are so many causes for their disturbance and we do nothing to address those.
Dr Amit Sen, Child Psychiatrist

Secondly, why are there no school counsellors, even when CBSE guidelines mandate it? And when they’re there, their role is reduced to doing miscellaneous work. Student’s also don’t feel comfortable approaching them for advice and see it as a punishment. Quite often they are seen as spies for the school administration.

In our cultural context, a child is not seen as an individual. The counsellor is also answerable to so many people, the school administration, the parents. It’s so important to recognise that the student is an individual and he/she has a right to privacy.
Swarnima Bhargava, Clinical Psychologist, Children First

What Should Be Done?

Strengthen the system of mental healthcare for children. The institute Children First, for example, works with schools to help them build structures and programmes. They carry out regular training workshops with teachers, students and work with the community as a whole.

First of all, schools should give due respect and delegate proper work to counsellors, they are the most useful part of the school system, says Sudeshna Nath, Senior School Counsellor, DPS Vasundhra. The schools have to diligently make the best possible use of them.

Bhargava adds that schools needs to do much more to address this problem.

It’s not enough to just have a counsellor on board. You need to train your entire faculty to recognise problems and address them. It has to be a continuous process of learning.

(Looking for help? Reach out to this list of safe mental health professionals compiled by The Health Collective.)

 

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Nearly 1 in 5 Cops Has Considered Suicide Amid Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

WHAT TO KNOW

  • 8,000 police officers across the U.S. responded to a survey by News 4 New York and the Fraternal Order of Police

  • They overwhelmingly reported that stressful or traumatic experiences on the job have impacted their mental health

  • The FOP says the survey is unprecedented and highlights a critical need; but officers say getting mental health assistance can be tricky

Amid rising concerns about police officer suicides, an unprecedented survey by the News 4 New York I-Team has found there’s a startling need for mental health services that’s not being met.

In cooperation with Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), News 4 New York sent a confidential online survey to thousands of police officers to hear directly from them about the impact of post-traumatic stress on their lives, and to learn what services are available when they need help.

From across the U.S., nearly 8,000 police officers responded, overwhelmingly reporting that stressful or traumatic experiences on the job have impacted their mental health.

Among the struggles they say are directly connected to the job: 16 percent have had thoughts of suicide, 15 percent have struggled with substance abuse, 52 percent have experienced family and relationship problems and 61 percent are haunted by recurring or unwanted memories of incidents.

The FOP says the survey is unprecedented and highlights a critical need.

“The sad reality is more police officers commit suicide in a year than are killed in the line of duty and that’s consistently the same year after year,” said Sherri Martin, chairperson of the FOP’s National Officer Wellness Committee. “Police officers don’t want to admit that they need help, because it’s often seen unfortunately as they aren’t able to do the job.”

But police officers say getting mental health assistance can be tricky. Of those who responded to the survey, 90 percent said there is a stigma in law enforcement that creates a barrier to seeking help for emotional or behavioral health issues. Seventy six percent were concerned about putting their job at risk if they asked for mental health assistance and 85 percent worried about being seen as weak or unfit for duty.

Additionally, 80 percent say they have not used services provided by their department’s employee assistance program (EAP) for mental health issues related to their job. Of those who did use their EAP, 59 percent did not find it helpful.

“There are some departments across the country unfortunately that still don’t really offer a lot of mental health services or wellness services to their police officers,” said Martin. “And that’s where the survey is going to bring light to those vacancies and bring light to those shortcomings and help us develop better programs and resources.”

Good Health is Mental Health

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – These 5 Jobs Have the Highest Suicide Rates for Women

A new government report highlights suicide rates among different occupations and found surprising differences between industries for both men and women. According to the most recent research, suicide rates are highest among men in construction and extraction industries, while they are highest among women working in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.

Workplace Mental Health

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James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

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The report also shows a 34% increase in suicides among the U.S. working-age population between 2000 and 2016, from 12.9 per 100,000 people to 17.3.

These statistics come from an analysis of 22,053 people in 17 states, ages 16 to 64, who died by suicide in either 2012 or 2015. Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grouped those deaths into 22 different industry categories and published their findings this week in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In both 2012 and 2015, the construction and extraction industry category had the highest suicide rates for men: 43.6 and 53.2 per 100,000 working persons, respectively. In 2015, the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media category had the second highest suicide rate among men (and also the highest increase in suicides since 2012), while the installation, maintenance, and repair industry had the third highest.

For women, the highest-risk industry category in both 2012 and 2015 was arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media—with 11.7 and 15.6 suicides per 100,000, respectively. Protective services and health care support (which did not include health care practitioners and technical occupations) had the second and third highest suicide rates for women in 2015, while food preparation and serving-related occupations saw the highest increase since 2012.

Among both men and women, the lowest suicide rates in 2015 were observed among people in education, training, and library occupations.

In their new report, the CDC researchers point out that the workplace is an “important but underutilized” location for suicide prevention efforts, because it’s where many adults spend substantial amounts of time. “Workplaces could potentially benefit from suicide prevention activities,” the authors wrote, and tailored approaches might be necessary “to support workers at higher risk.”

RELATED: What to Say—and Not to Say—When You Talk About Suicide

Factors such as job insecurity and lack of job control have been associated with psychological distress and suicide, the authors wrote in their paper. Certain occupations also tend to be associated with lower income and education, which can influence suicide rates, as well. More research is needed to know whether improving working conditions and reducing stress could have an effect on these trends, they wrote.

To help prevent suicide, the CDC recommends that employers implement workplace wellness programs and online mental health screenings, increase awareness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]), and reduce access to “lethal means” among people at risk.

Workplaces can also aim to enhance social connectedness and expand access to resources, strengthen state or local economic supports, implement practices that decrease stigma and encourage people to seek help, and provide referrals to mental health professionals, the authors wrote in their paper. And employers should have a response plan in place—should a suicide affect their organization—to address the issue with workers and support surviving family and friends.

“Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” said Deb Houry, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in an agency press release. “Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.”

While this study focused on American’s working-age populations, the CDC has previously reported that suicide rates have been climbing among nearly every demographic, age group, and geographic area. A report published earlier this year by the National Center for Health Statistics also found that this increase has been especially high among girls and women.

“If you are concerned that someone you care about is thinking about suicide, have the difficult conversation and ask them,” Colleen Carr, director of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, told Health earlier this year. “It will not put the thought in their head or make them feel worse. It tends to give people relief that the door has been opened to have this candid conversation and get support. Do not judge or try to solve their problem–just listen.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Suicide Rate Rising Among U.S. Workers

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

Workplace Mental Health

(Reuters Health) – Suicide rates are rising among U.S. workers, and the risk may depend partly on the types of jobs people do, government researchers suggest.

From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. suicide rate among adults ages 16 to 64 rose 34 percent, from 12.9 deaths for every 100,000 people in the population to 17.3 per 100,000, according to the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The highest suicide rate among men was for workers in construction and mining jobs, with 43.6 deaths for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 53.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, the analysis found.

The highest suicide rate among women was for workers in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, with 11.7 fatalities for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 15.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2015.

“Since most adults spend a great deal of their time at work, the workplace is an important and underutilized venue for suicide prevention,” said study co-author Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC in Atlanta.

While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how specific types of jobs or workplace characteristics might contribute to the risk of suicide, lack of control over employment and a lack of job security can both be stressors that make suicide more likely, Stone said by email.

Many factors outside the workplace can also influence the risk of suicide, including relationship problems, substance use, physical or mental health, finances or legal problems, Stone added.

And ready access to guns and other weapons have a big impact on whether suicidal thoughts turn into actions with fatal outcomes, Stone said.

Guns may explain the higher suicide rates among men than among women, said Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Boise, Idaho.

“In America, with ready access to guns, men make the choice of death by gun, but it is the less likely choice by females,” Namie, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Hence, it is possible that in moments of despair that might pass if friends or family could intervene, with a gun handy, the decision is too quickly implemented.”

To assess suicide rates by occupation, the CDC examined data collected from 17 states in 2012 and 2015; the results are not representative of the nation as a whole. The results were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although arts, design, entertainment, sports and media had the highest suicide rates among women, this category saw the biggest increase in suicide rate among men during the study. For women, the biggest increase in suicide rates was in the food service industry.

One limitation of the study is that it didn’t examine suicide methods. It also excluded two groups of Americans that typically have stressors that can increase their risk of suicide: military veterans and unemployed people.

Even so, the results suggest that employers can play a role in suicide prevention by offering worksite wellness programs, encouraging use of behavioral and mental health services, and training workers in the warning signs of suicide and how to respond, Stone said.

Promoting social interaction rather than isolation in daily tasks on the job may also help with suicide prevention, along with creating a workplace culture of inclusion that does not allow for abusive conduct or bullying, Namie said.

“The road to suicide begins with one employee mounting an inexplicable systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction against another employee,” Namie said. “Bullying is the most preventable predictor of suicide.”

People having suicidal thoughts or observing suicidal behavior in a co-worker or loved one can call for help: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

 

 

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Mental Health Resources Available for Those Struggling Around Holidays

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

Mental Health Resources During the HolidaysINGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — – The holidays are here, and while it’s a happy time for many people, it’s really not for others. And if you are someone who struggles through the holidays, health experts want you to know, there is hope, both now and year-round.

Mental health is an important topic year-round. And it’s an all-too familiar statistic: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Jody Nelson, a Prevention Therapist at Community Mental Health of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties says the holiday season can be especially difficult for people who have suffered a loss or live away from family. But helping someone who might be suffering from depression or have thoughts of suicide can be as simple as reaching out and checking in.

“A lot of people when they get into that mindset where they’re actually thinking of taking their own life, they feel very isolated and cut off and alone. And it’s very important for them to know that there is help. There’s absolutely help and it can make a huge difference. And they’re not nearly as alone as they feel that they are,” Nelson said.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website, something to watch for is unusual changes in behavior. Some of those can include a person withdrawing, increased drinking or drug use, erratic behavior or extreme mood swings.

If you or someone you know are struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or the Community Mental Health crisis line at 517.346.8460.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Fifth of 17 to 19-year-old Girls Self-Harm or Attempt Suicide

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

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A fifth of girls aged 17-19 and one in 10 boys the same age have self-harmed or tried to kill themselves, the biggest research into young people’s mental health for 13 years has found.

Experts said the figures were “deeply worrying” and raised serious questions about the damage that social media, pressures to look good, and sexual violence were doing to the mental welfare of young women in England.

The government-funded study has also prompted concern by revealing that 5.5% of children aged between two and four have a mental health disorder – the first time official figures have captured such data on young children.

The latest evidence of the growing epidemic of mental ill health in young people has led to calls for ministers and NHS bosses to radically upgrade their plans to improve care.

The findings, released by NHS Digital, showed that overall one in eight of 11 to 19-year-olds had some form of mental disorder in 2017. Among five to 15-year-olds, the only group whose mental health was measured when the survey was last carried out in 2004, prevalence rose from 10.1% then to 11.2% last year. Many experts were surprised that the rise was not more pronounced.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/nov/2018-11-22T21:16:36/embed.html
But the disclosure that distress and suffering were so common in late teenage girls provoked particular unease. Overall, 21.5% of females aged 17 to 19 have self-harmed or attempted suicide. Almost one in four (23.9%) girls that age had a mental disorder, mostly anxiety or depression.

The figures for 17 to 19-year-old boys showed that 9.7% had self-harmed or tried to kill themselves.

Emma Thomas, the chief executive of the charity Young Minds, said: “It’s alarming that so many 17 to19 year-old-women have diagnosable mental health problems, and deeply worrying that so many of those have self-harmed or felt suicidal.

“Pressure to do well at school, college or university, difficulty finding work or starting a new job, and moving to a new area all help explain the widespread anguish among them.”

Jemima Olchawski, the chief executive of Agenda which campaigns for girls and women at risk, said: “This serious and accelerating deterioration in young women and girls’ mental health should concern us all.”

But she disagreed with Thomas. “It’s not enough to blame body image and social media,” she said. “The sexualisation of girls, the pressures they face around sex, and particularly the alarming levels of sexual and other forms of violence they experience, must be a key part of the conversation.”

Sue Rogers, the services manager at Action for Children, said its staff’s experience of helping families had shown that some very young children were struggling.

She said: “Sleep disturbance, behaviour issues, excess crying and eating difficulties are how toddlers tell us something is wrong. We see a growing number of adults with mental health problems, this has a cyclical effect on young children.

“Due to central government cuts, vital services such as children’s centres, health visitors and family support services have been reduced, cutting off an important lifeline to families who need to seek early help for their pre-school children’s mental health.”

The widespread use of technology by both parents and children may also be behind the figures, she added. Prof Tamsin Ford, one of the study’s co-authors who focuses on child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Exeter, rejected the idea that children were being damaged by their use of gadgets such as iPads.

The study was undertaken by NatCen Social Research, the Office for National Statistics and Youth in Mind. The researchers also found that mental disorders become more common during childhood. The rates rose from one in 18 (two to four-year-olds), to one in 10 (five to 10-year-olds), one in seven (11 to 16-year-olds) and one in six (17 to 19-year-olds).

Other key findings

  • Disorders were much more common among boys than girls from the age of two to 10; they then equalise among 11 to 16-year-olds, before being much more widespread among girls (23.9%) than boys (10.3%) aged 17 to 19.
  • London has the lowest rate of mental disorders in young people at 9%, while the East of England has the highest at 15.6%.
  • About 15% of white British children have a disorder – the highest proportion – while Asian/Asian British young people have the lowest incidence at 5.2%.
  • About 35% of the quarter of the 9,117 participants who identified as non-heterosexual had a mental health disorder, compared with 13.2% of those who identified as heterosexual.

 In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or emailjo@samaritans.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Worried About a Loved One’s Mental Health? How to Help (and What to Say) Tips for Supporting a Troubled Relative or Friend

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

Teen Depressed Talk

When you’re concerned about a friend’s or loved one’s mental health, you may think, “I should mind my own business.” But under the right circumstances, you can do a lot of good by reaching out, says psychiatrist Minnie Bowers-Smith, MD.

What do you say to a young person who seems unhappy?

Say you notice your 16-year-old niece isn’t particularly happy. She’s doing poorly at school. She’s not interacting with people, taking care of herself or getting along with family and friends.

“When it seems like something isn’t moving in the right direction for her as a normal 16- year-old, have a conversation with her,” says Dr. Bowers.

“It’s difficult to talk to teens unless they want to talk to you, so I try to tap into the here and now. If I see a tattoo, I’ll ask, ‘When did you get that tattoo, what’s it mean?’”

Eventually, you can say, “Is there anything you think you want to talk about?” or “Can I help you in any way?”

If you see scars on a young person’s wrist, if they always dress in black, if they always seem unhappy, Dr. Bowers suggests asking, “Is there any chance you might hurt someone, or hurt yourself?” or “Have you had any thoughts about dying?”

“It’s better to ask than to not ask,” says Dr. Bowers. “With teens, you always want to know about suicidal thinking, to prevent harm to themselves and others.”

Or you can ask the parent to pose these questions to their child. If that doesn’t work, the parent should talk to the child’s pediatrician.

“When teens are violent toward themselves, their siblings or their parents, that demands an ER visit,” says Dr. Bowers. “If drugs or alcohol are involved, or if they overdose, go to the ER. Then let the experts decide when to bring them home.”

How do you talk to an older adult who seems depressed?

The risk of suicide isn’t confined to the young. “Suicide is also a concern in older adults,” says Dr. Bowers.

Say your 55-year-old uncle has been laid off. He’s isolated himself, grown irritable and doesn’t bother to shave or put on clean clothes.

Midlife crises — a job loss, financial setback, health challenge and/or relationship problems — increase suicide risk, especially in men. Alcohol abuse only adds fuels to the fire.

How do you tackle this sensitive subject with the older generation? Dr. Bowers recommends a gentle, respectful approach. Start by asking how they’re doing and if they’re still able to enjoy their favorite pursuits.

“Then, ever so gently, you can say, ‘Are you happy with what you’re able to do now or not?’ and ‘Are you feeling kind of sad?’” she suggests.

If they don’t volunteer information, you can observe that they don’t seem happy, and aren’t getting around well. Ask if they’re sleeping, eating and taking care of themselves.

“Then you can ever so gently move into, ‘It may be helpful to talk to somebody — medication can help you feel better,’” Dr. Bowers suggests. Ask if they have a family doctor, then help them make an appointment.

But if your relative admits to hoarding medication or says, “Life just doesn’t seem worth living,” take them the ER or urgent care, or call your local suicide prevention hotline or the police.

“If you say you have a suicidal relative, you’ll be connected to the services you need,” she notes. “Large cities often have mobile crisis teams that come out to the home.”

What should you say to a troubled friend or coworker?

It’s trickier talking to someone you’re not related to — like a friend whose difficult or erratic behavior has landed them in hot water at work.

Without judging, offer your concerned support. “It won’t help to discuss what they should have done, or what the boss should have done,” advises Dr. Bowers.

“Just say, ‘I’d like to help you stop having the troubles you’ve been having.’ Show them that you’re working with them and not against them.”

You can tell them, “I know a guy,” and offer the name of a doctor or counselor. But if you think the situation might escalate, get help.

“Use your judgment,” advises Dr. Bowers. “If you think the person might get angry — or if they own guns or knives, or have said they’re going to hurt someone, or slash someone’s tires, then call the police, or the security officer at work.”

Offer support, but know your limits

Compassion is key when you’re dealing with someone who may be mentally ill. After all, they may not even realize they have an illness.

“Pose your questions thoughtfully,” advises Dr. Bowers. “Some people with serious mental illnesses may decline our help. But sometimes we’re just not asking the right questions.”

And remember, you can’t fix their problem — only a mental health professional can. But you can get those you love going in a healthy direction by referring them to experts for help.

Community resources are useful as well. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a free resource for the mentally ill and their loved ones. Self-help groups like Recovery International and Emotions Anonymous (a 12-step program) can also be invaluable.

Good mental health is a lifelong goal

We tend to think about mental health only in the midst of a crisis, Dr. Bowers notes. But our own mental health, and the mental health of those around us, should be a lifelong concern.

“Many life events can be confusing, scary and overwhelming,” she says. “Good mental health will see you through declining health, the loss of loved ones, natural disasters, societal turmoil and the many other challenges life can bring.”

Speak Up to Prevent Suicide