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This is Not a "Them" Problem - This is an "Us" Problem

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

September is National Suicide Prevention month and at Cypress we are more passionate than ever about making sure we all know what to do and say if someone we know is having thoughts of suicide.

In my life, I have lost people to suicide. And I can tell you from lived experience, that the pain of those losses never goes away. As someone left behind, there are a million complicated emotions to navigate: love, confusion, sadness, frustration, anger and so many more. A death by suicide is a particular kind of loss that also carries with it tremendous stigma. That means it can be difficult to talk about or even to find people willing to listen if you’re ready to talk. If you have lost someone to suicide, please know you are not alone.

Often when I’m teaching Mental Health First Aid and we get to the section about suicide, I’ll try and make the point: Do not believe this is a “them” problem because this is an “us” problem. By that I mean that suicide impacts all socio-economic groups, ages, occupations. Chances are you know someone who has had these thoughts – you just may not know you do. Do not be lulled into thinking it could never happen to you – to your family, to your friends. It can. This is not just happening “over there” to “other” people. This is happening in our communities, in our social circles, in our schools and health systems, in our professional networks … it’s where we live and work and play.

Recently, a CNN article outlined the current data – suicide is on the rise in this country and in fact, hit a record high in 2022. You can read more about the findings here: https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/10/health/suicide-deaths-record-high-2022/index.html And while anyone can be at risk, we know certain populations are even more vulnerable: the elderly, men aged 45-60, youth including youth of color and LGBTQ+ identifying youth.

So what can we do? Well at Cypress, we believe two things can help us prevent deaths by suicide – 1) getting certified in Mental Health First Aid and 2) learning about 988 and using it when needed. MHFA training helps you identify the signs and symptoms that someone may be struggling and helps you approach that conversation without judgement. It also helps you know how to handle a crisis – like someone saying they want to kill themselves.

And 988 is our new national number for suicide prevention and mental health crisis. Here is some more information on 988 that the Cypress team has pulled together to help understand how it works.

We all have a role to play in Suicide Prevention. This is not a “them” problem – this is an “us” problem. The data is clear – people around us are hurting. So we need to be prepared to help them if the moment should arise.

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