September is National Suicide Prevention Month
With the beginning of a new semester and the approach of Fall, the anticipation of a fresh start for many may be muddled or even overshadowed by stressors, including (and especially) a still-active pandemic. The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) team at MATC is a resource for students experiencing a wide range of issues such as emotional distress and even thoughts of suicide.
Suicide is a complex issue. Risk factors for suicidality include mental health and substance use issues, financial difficulties, physical illness, social isolation or marginalization, trauma, and ease of access to lethal means such as firearms. With education and support, these risks can be decreased and suicide can be prevented (Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Plan, 2020).
According to recent statistical data (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Data, January 2021), in 2019 suicide was the 9th leading cause of death in Wisconsin overall, and the 2nd leading cause for those ages 10-34 and 4th for the 35-54 age group. Remarkably, over four times as many people died by suicide in 2019 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
To prevent suicide, we need to be able to approach the subject openly and without shame. How we talk about suicide matters–if you know or suspect someone is having thoughts about suicide, asking calm, direct questions is the most effective way to open the conversation and help get someone the support they need. It is important to remember that by expressing concern, you can’t cause someone to become suicidal–and that asking someone if they are having feelings of harming themselves can be the lifeline they need to get help.
If you become concerned that someone might be suicidal, you can follow the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) model of intervention:
In a private setting, ask straightforward questions, for example: “I overheard something you said that made me concerned. Are you thinking about suicide?”
If the person is having thoughts about suicide, let them know help is available, and encourage them to let you help them get support. You can say, “Will you let me assist you to get some help?”
Facilitate a referral to another resource that is equipped to assess and manage a crisis. At MATC, Public Safety is available 24/7 to respond to crisis situations. You can also call 911 and ask for a mental health crisis intervention. Make sure that the suicidal person is not left alone during the transfer of support.
Remember, the MATC CAPS team provides free, short-term counseling for students along with education, resources and support to the MATC community. CAPS can be reached via email at: [email protected] Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
You may contact individual CAPS team members at:
Carlos Aranda (Bilingual Spanish), LPC, [email protected], 414.380-1600.
Kate Cunningham, LPC, [email protected], 414.297.8389
Christine Litwin, LPC, [email protected], 414.297.7376
Nicole Wheatley, LPC, [email protected], 262-238-2469
More information on suicide prevention is available at the following resources.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (available 24/7)
Support for deaf people and those with hearing loss: 800-799-4899
Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
The Crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741 (available 24/7)
The Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 and press 1 (available 24/7)
Text 838255 (available 24/7)
Online Chat: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat
The Trevor Project, serving the LGBTQIA community: 866-488-7386 (available 24/7)
Text START to 678678 (available 24/7)
Online Chat: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/
Milwaukee Vet Center, 7910 N. 76 Street, Milwaukee, Wi. Phone: 414-902-5561
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): https://adaa.org/adaa-online-support-group
The JED Foundation website: https://www.jedfoundation.org/