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Talk Saves Lives

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Jessica Van der Stad - Regional director - Talk Saves Lives is a community-based presentation created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( that covers the general scope of suicide, the research on prevention, and what people can do to fight suicide.

The following are a few of my notes from the above mentioned presentation. I highly recommend you reach out to Jessica if you are interested in hosting a Talk Saves Lives presentation. Here are just a few of my bullet points (I couldn't write fast enough to get it all!)

“With help comes hope” because it allows the person time to get the needed mental, and physical help and support.

  • Those that have suicidal ideation brains structure and function is different than a non suicidal person

  • They are ambivalent about taking their lives

  • Help them connect with reasons for living because they are desperate to escape their pain. Their thinking becomes restricted. They don’t want to die just want the pain to end. Keep them safe and help them feel supported

  • Some are at higher risk than others. Those with: clinical depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorders personality disorders, PTSD

  • Also at higher risk are those with: chronic health problems, chronic pain, a head injury, a family history of suicide, past trauma, child abuse, prolonged stress, a job loss, a meaningful loss of some kind, previous suicide attempts combined with access to lethal means, fire arms or drugs. Genetic Risk: depression, family member died from suicide. Drinking more than usual.

  • Focus on Prevention: maintain good mental health, family support, community support. Focus on problem solving.

  • Get a check up from the neck up! See a mental health professional, get an evaluation, explore treatment options, follow through

  • Insurance plans cover mental health support

  • Daily Exercise: walking, hiking, go to the beach, the mountains, connect with nature, work in the yard, grow a garden. Get 8 hrs of quality sleep during the night. Sometimes sleep hours are reversed in the depressed individual.

  • Eat a healthy diet: Mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, meat (preferably grass fed and finished). Limit high sugar foods. Limit or abstain from high sugar sodas and alcohol.

  • Limit TV and screen time, video games, etc. Get them out living their lives in a healthy environment

  • Stress management focus on positive things. Get professional counseling for past or current trauma.

  • Have a conversation with your loved on about how they feel. Open the door and let them talk, watch for signs, reach out, seek help, be proactive.

  • They often talk about ending their lives. Feel they have no reason to live. They often feel they are a burden, feel trapped. They may deal with unbearable physical or emotional pain.

  • Alcohol, drugs, sleep issues, withdrawing, isolation, giving away possessions, are all possible signs.

  • Defining Moods: depression, apathy, rage, irritable, impulsivity, humiliation, anxiety

  • Survivors of previous attempts need help and are at increased risk, Give them time to heal.

  • Trust your gut. Assume you are the only one who is going to reach out. Its okay to ask directly. Be direct ask: What's going on? Can we talk? Do you feel you want to end your life?

  • Talk to them in private. Listen without judgement. Help them get help.

  • Express concern and care. Don’t minimize their feelings. Avoid convincing them life is worth living. Avoid advice on how to fix them or their problems.

  • In crisis they need to be heard. Help them to get help. Don’t leave them alone. Remove lethal means.

  • Take them to emergency or mental health services. Stay with them for support when possible.

  • 800-273-talk (800-273-8255) or text Crisis Talk to 741741

  • - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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