Suicide Prevention Month: breaking stigmas and helping those who are struggling
Sep 5, 2023, 2:00 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — September is National Suicide Prevention Month and advocates are using this time to share information on helping those struggling with their mental health.
Ganel-Lyn Condie, an author, speaker and mental health advocate, provided some tips to KSL NewsRadio’s Inside Sources for having important conversations.
“Don’t assume it’s a demographic that you’re not responsible for or not involved in,” said Condie.
Fighting the stigma
Normalizing mental health struggles as health topics is one way we can destigmatize them, according to Condie.
According to one respondent to questions from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, encouraging equality between physical and mental illnesses can encourage people to think twice before commenting on someone’s mental health struggles.
Being open and honest about mental health is another way to destigmatize mental health.
“When we post about it, talk about it,” said Condie, it becomes more normalized.
Creating group chats with loved ones and sending messages such as ‘quick mental health check-in, use an emoji,’ is one method of starting important conversations. If someone uses an emoji that raises concern, that is a good time to follow up with them.
“That expands the conversation right there because there [are] a lot more emojis than just happy, sad, and mad,” said Condie.
Another way to reduce stigma around mental health is to ask follow-up questions, even for positive emotions. Posing questions such as ‘how did that make you feel?’ or asking the person to elaborate, can put focus on the individual, normalizing important conversations.
NAMI also said that showing compassion, choosing empowerment over shame, and being honest about mental health struggles and treatment are all ways we can all work to destigmatize mental health struggles.
The importance of therapy
Therapy is a means of education, according to Condie. It is a means of reframing things to feel attainable or accessible.
“When you say therapy, it’s not always just the traditional talk therapy,” said Condie. “[It is] education for our relationships, our brains, [and] our hearts.”
According to the American Psychological Association, close to 75% of people who begin psychotherapy or talking therapy see some benefits after six months of mental health treatment. These benefits can include increased self-awareness, developing healthy coping skills, and changing negative thought patterns.
Supporting those who are struggling
When offering support to someone in need, or seeking support, an important question is ‘What does support look like?’
“Especially when it comes to mental health, the way one person receives support is different than another [person,]” said Condie.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, the CDC has provided some guidance for suicide prevention.
Remind them that they are not alone.
Phrases such as “we’ll never be better without you,” are ways to remind the person how important they are, according to Condie.
Create protective environments for the person who is struggling. Reduce access to lethal means, and make sure the person is not left alone.
Those who are struggling should be provided the help they need. They can reach out to the Crisis Text Line, dial 988, or chat at 988lifeline.org.
Condie said that reaching out to start conversations about mental health is the first step for everyone.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (1-801-583-2500).
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