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All Kentuckians are mandated reporters. If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, call the Child Protection Hotline.

1-877-KYSAFE1 or 1-877-597-2331

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Suicide Prevention Month: #BeThe1To

 September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness of this stigmatized, and often taboo, topic. We use this month to shift public perception, spread hope, and share vital information to people affected by suicide. Our goal is ensuring that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help.

Face It partners with many organizations throughout the state that work with youth, young adults, and families through mental health crises. One unique partner, Mental Health America of Kentucky (MHAKY), works to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health and substance use services through advocacy with local, state and federal policy-makers, education of the public, and promotion of research-based practices among providers.​ Hear from MHAKY’s Executive Director, Marcie Timmerman, about the importance of raising awareness of this issue that impacts far too many people:

Why is it important as ever for us to promote National Suicide Prevention Month in 2022?

We all have a brain. We all have mental health. We’re all subject to stress, worry, and anger. Emotions and experiences are part of being human. There’s no health without mental health, but for a long time we separated physical health and brain health. Saying the “s” word – suicide – has been taboo for a long time. Yet, over half of Kentuckians have survived the suicide of a loved one or someone they know. Suicide is happening at a growing rate across the country for the past several decades. We promote National Suicide Prevention Month to make sure accurate, factual, and clear information on suicide warning signs and mental health crisis assistance is readily available to anyone who may need it.

What mental/behavioral health issues are Kentucky kids and families currently dealing with that make suicide prevention efforts in our communities so vital?

With the opioid epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic, destructive tornadoes, and severe floods, Kentucky families have been through a lot of additional stress lately. Kentucky youth tell us they are feeling lonely and disconnected, they’re worried about things like racism and climate change, and they are stressed about day-to-day things in ways they haven’t been before. We’re concerned that children, youth, and parents are all stressed out, anxious about facing more things out of their control, and many are fighting hard for basic shelter, food, and clean water. Statistics and our online mental health screenings clearly tell us families are on edge – anxiety and depression symptoms are rising in Kentucky and nationally. 

Suicide prevention efforts for National Suicide Prevention Month remind us of the warning signs, symptoms, and crisis response like 988. Our efforts can’t end there, however. Trigger locks, gun safes, having ammunition separate from firearms – that’s suicide prevention. Properly disposing of excess prescriptions is suicide prevention. Education on building healthy relationships and friendships is suicide prevention. Having a sense of belonging and at least two supportive adults for our youth is suicide prevention. Affordable, safe housing is suicide prevention. Access to mental health care is suicide prevention. Having clean water and healthy food is suicide prevention. Quality school experiences are suicide prevention. The list goes on and on of big-picture things we can do to reduce the number of suicides we experience in Kentucky significantly.

What role(s) do community member have in suicide prevention?

As a community member, you have the opportunity to prevent suicide. “If you see something, say something.” If you notice some of the warning signs of suicide in an acquaintance, friend, or family member, think first if you’re someone that person will open up to, and if you are then ask directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” or “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Question-Persuade-Refer, AFSP’s Talk Save Lives and Mental Health First Aid all go into more depth on when and how to have that conversation, who to refer people to if they are thinking about it (988 is a good start!), and remind you about self-care after helping in this type of situation. On a grander scale, promoting the policies above like affordable housing, diversity-equity-inclusion-accessability work, etc are all good ways to help prevent the pain and suffering that drives a person to suicide. We’re social animals, building relationships with youth and families in your school district, your house of worship, your neighborhood – that’s all suicide prevention for you and them.

What tangible actions/steps can we all take to prevent suicide?

Become more familiar with the warning signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation. Sign up for a Mental Health First Aid course. Share the Suicide Prevention Month information with your network(s).

Learn more about National Suicide Prevention Month and find ways YOU can take action.