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Ask Liz - Reflections during National Suicide Prevention Week

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This past week was National Suicide Prevention Week. And the message about being kindly aware of our own mental health and that of others, has never been more pertinent.

Dear Liz,

I caught a touching TV news story today about a mother of three sons who had lost her husband to suicide two years ago.

They talked about her new book, which I’d like to get and share. This story really brought me to tears, because it echoed the recent experience of a dear friend of mine and her family. I’d love to review her message and what is recommended when we encounter this sensitive issue. I want to get better understanding on how to support my friend — and how to be more caring and proactive in the future.

Need to know

Dear “Need to Know,”

Thank you for your compassionate and timely question. I saw that interview and have some information about it. I thought it was remarkable. The woman’s name is Kayla Stoecklein and her new book is called, “Fear Gone Wild. “ Her husband was the lead pastor of a large church, and his death by suicide rocked their community as well as her young family. In her interview she explained that she took three days, then wrote her husband a letter, filled with compassion and love. Her advice for us included to lean into the pain of the person with compassion. And instead of judging, reach out with gestures of love and care — even if they are not necessarily received. She mentioned that notes, a meal at the door and even texts of “I care about you” all can help. She encouraged us to get close enough to get a hint of what a troubled or “sick” brain is experiencing. And be there. Kayla explains in her book how she handles this trauma with her sons, for them to see the good in their dad, with compassion and understanding. What a courageous example. With one out of four of us struggling with some level of depression and/or anxiety — but only 10 per cent of us getting help — we must remove any stigma attached to seeking help and support. Everyone should keep the suicide prevention helpline number handy to share or to use: 800-273-8255. Their website has a tremendous amount of information and support:

Your “need to know” is a beautiful thing. We each can make a difference by gaining information and acting with kindness.

Dear Liz,

What happens when you call a suicide prevention hotline?

Just asking for a friend

Dear “Just Asking for a Friend,”

What a fantastic and courageous question. This answer is from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline listed above. First you will hear an automated message (don’t hang up!) featuring additional options while your call is routed to your local Lifeline Crisis center. (It is all still confidential!) We’ll play you a little music while we connect you to a skilled, trained crisis worker. This person will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and get you the help that you need.”

When in doubt, please reach out. For yourself or someone you care about.

Contact Liz via Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.


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