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Uncomfortable Questions Could Save Someone's Life

Illinois' suicide rate rose nearly 23% between 2008 and 2016. (orawen/AdobeStock)
Illinois' suicide rate rose nearly 23% between 2008 and 2016. (orawen/AdobeStock)
September 10, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A simple conversation could save a life - that's just one of the messages mental-health organizations are hoping to drive home on World Suicide Prevention Day. Illinois' suicide rate rose nearly 23% between 2008 and 2016.

Steve Moore, co-chair at the Illinois chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explained social stigma still prevents people from seeking help. That's why he said it's crucial to discreetly reach out to loved ones who might be struggling and ask the question directly.

“’Are you considering suicide? Have you attempted before?’ Those are the kind of things that are entirely appropriate to ask,” Moore said. “The consequences of being wrong: just a mild, slight insult. Whereas the consequence of not asking and they were considering it is absolutely devastating."

If the answer is "yes," Moore said the next step is to stay with them and help connect them to resources that can help. In Illinois, men are 3-4 times more likely than women to die from suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-34.

Anyone in crisis is encouraged to text 4-HOPE to 741-741.

Moore said there are many myths surrounding suicide, including the notion that it isn't preventable.

“Ninety percent of suicides are people that have had some sort of a mental-health condition. And if we can treat those mental-health conditions, than we can prevent those suicides,” he said.

There is no single cause for suicide, but experts say depression, anxiety and substance-use problems can increase the risk when unaddressed. Moore said he wants those who are struggling to know there is hope.

"The message is that you're not alone, that you should not be ashamed and that you should seek help,” he said.

Assistance also is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-723-TALK.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. National Suicide Prevention Week runs through Saturday.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL