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Breaking the Silence on Suicide: Community Resources

I really can’t think of a good way to start this article. The truth is, there really is no good way to start talking about this subject. You can’t ease into it or beat around the bush, so I’m just going to dive right in…

Recently we lost some amazing talent to suicide. Chris Cornell of the rock band Soundgarden and then Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. That one, in particular, hit me hard. Not only because I loved that band and grew up listening to them, but because Chester had come so far in his open struggle with depression, drugs, and alcohol. This was a talent that reached thousands if not millions of people with his lyrics, performances and off stage charity work. However, all of that didn’t matter, because behind the scenes Chester still struggled. With the loss of a dear friend and fellow musician in Chris Cornell, it was sadly too much for him and Chester took his own life.

These are just two examples of how suicide not only affected those close but millions across the country. Suicide is a major public health issue, taking life without regard to age, income, education, social standing, race, or gender. The legacy of suicide continues long after the death, impacting grieving loved ones and entire communities.

Generally speaking, people are afraid to talk about it, because it’s frightening and we don’t understand it. But silence isn’t the solution. The sad truth is that suicide is right here in our city, state and in the schools that your children attend. Some of the national facts and statistics are not only disheartening but downright scary.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among the ages of 15-44, which includes both male and female. Youth between the ages of 15-19 have now become the group that is considered the highest risk.

Another fact showed that mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of suicide cases. A recent study conducted in May of 2017 looked at 32 children’s hospitals and why people were admitted (other than surgery, injuries and so on). The study found that children’s hospital admissions of patients 5 to 17 years old for such thoughts or actions more than doubled from 2008 to 2015. The study looked at 32 hospitals using data from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS).

This information is no doubt alarming. What do we as parents, friends, family, teachers and a community do with these alarming facts? How do we not only look out for warning signs but help those in need of support?

Frisco Independent School District sees thousands of students daily, and identifying who may truly dealing with an issue that may lead them to hurt themselves can be a difficult task. However, the teachers and administration are all trained and prepared to help and they take this issue very seriously. The district provides the warning signs, facts and more on their website. They also have 24-hour hotlines that address all sorts of issues related to suicidal thoughts and handling this very sensitive subject. Heritage High School provides a list of phone numbers on their campus’ website.

Being aware of warning signs is just the beginning of helping a student who may be suicidal or anyone for that matter. Knowing when it’s time for you to step aside and alert a professional who is qualified to help, is critical. Being there for someone, listening to them and being available is key, as trust is very important.

My first experience with suicide was right when I was got out of high school. A troubled friend of mine left my apartment one night and took his own life. He never said a word to any of us, and none of us saw anything out of the ordinary, but clearly, something was going on. When someone loses a loved one to suicide, the devastation and emotional wounds can be catastrophic to their well-being.

Kayla White, MS, NCC, LCDC-Intern, is a mental health professional who serves clients at Lifeologie Institute in Frisco. She says,

I’m an advocate for suicide awareness and prevention. Suicide is often misunderstood and labeled as a controversial topic. However, it’s estimated that each suicide death leaves behind an average of six survivors. It touches our lives more often than we think. As a mental health professional, I strive to provide services to both survivors of suicide (those who have lost a loved one) and to those struggling with suicidality (ideation, actions, and/or attempts).

I’m able to work with individuals, couples, and families in a counseling setting and I’m also able to offer presentations to schools, companies, and other organizations in order to better inform the public of warning signs, prevention tips, and other community resources.”

Frisco has a lot of resources to aid in suicide prevention, and as a tight-knit community, I feel that it’s important to provide the education and resources so that people know who to talk to and where to go.

Community Resources

National Resources