Image courtesy of afsp.org

Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss, and it’s a time for those who have lost a loved one from death by suicide to share their experiences in a safe environment. 

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Central Iowa Executive Director Angela Tharp says her family suffered a loss with their middle son who died by suicide when he was 17-years-old in 2014. She points out that after that experience, NAMI played a key role in helping her family understand the signs of someone suffering from a mental illness before it turns into a suicidal situation. Tharp gives this advice for those who may notice someone acting differently, and how to approach that individual.

“If you calmly ask very direct questions to the individual and don’t beat around the bush, you are going to make more of a difference in that individual is going to see that you care.”

She notes that when you are having a conversation with someone who is possibility thinking of suicide to know you don’t have to be the expert. But, if you think someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also send a text to 741741. Tharp says NAMI also has lots of resources for mental health and suicide prevention listed on their website at namicentraliowa.org.