Social media can help advocate suicide prevention

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jun 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-13 11:25:38-04

GREAT FALLS – Fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died by suicide last week and people have taken to social media as advocates for suicide prevention.

Everywhere you look, whether it be on Twitter or Facebook, your news feed is inundated with posts asking those who are experiencing suicidal ideation to reach out.

“I think when people are advocating and they’re showing that pain, they’re not glamorizing it,” said Nicole Zimmerman, program coordinator at Alliance for Youth. “Reaching out is the biggest thing. The more times you reach out, the more times you ask for help, you’re going to find something that works.”

Others are asking for people to check on their friends.

“Most of us are aware when someone is going through that or we’ve seen signs and symptoms. There’s other instances where that’s not going to happen, but the more in tune we are with people, the more people understand that we care or they’re going to at least reach out to us,” Zimmerman said.

But people are talking about suicide prevention — which Zimmerman said can be helpful.

“I think people advocating and talking about it is always good. If you’re going to be an advocate and try to speak up, make sure you’re educated on the right things to say. You can do more harm than good if you’re not using the facts,” said Zimmerman. “People saying the wrong thing is harmful, it’s not helpful and trying to give people advice instead of encouragement or support is very different things.

Zimmerman added that if you’re concerned, educating yourself on the proper things to say is helpful to prevent alienating someone and to understand warning signs.

Warnings signs of suicidal ideation are similar to those of depression, such as big changes in personality or behavior, but some may not even show any signs.

“It’s hard to reach out and face your demons and some people don’t even know there’s a problem, so it’s kind of our responsibility to watch out for one another and when you’re struggling that much,” said Zimmerman.

As more people shared the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, there has been a spike in calls. The Great Falls crisis hotline, Voices of Hope, has also seen a 12% increase since last week, according to director Jackie Gittins.

She said while it’s positive people are reaching out, unfortunately, more people are considering suicide as an option rather than just a passing thought.

If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal ideations or depression, call 1-800-273-8255. There is also a #LetsTalk app available with the warning signs to look for and other resources for help. It’s available in the App Store or Play Store.

We also have a list of resources here.

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