Suicide Prevention: Stepping Out of the Darkness

By Sinay Butler, Counselor, Dragonfly Wellness & Education Center (509) 724-0221

September was Suicide Prevention Month, a month set aside to remember those who were lost to suicide, to acknowledge the millions of people struggling with suicidal ideation, and to support those of us who know the pain of losing someone to suicide. Raising awareness and talking about suicide is one way we help people step out of the darkness and into hope for a brighter day.


Suicide is 100% preventable.


Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 48,000 deaths a year and more than 1.7 million suicide attempts. More females attempt suicide, with about 10% of high school students reporting at least one attempt in a 2021 survey. The highest rate of completed suicide is among white middle-aged men, as they account for nearly 70% of all suicides. Suicide rates are second highest among American Indian and Native Alaskans.


It is a common misconception that asking someone if they are thinking about suicide or talking about suicide can push them towards suicide. This isn’t true. One of the ways we can help prevent suicide is to talk about it and to be a safe place for people to share their feelings of distress. Sharing their thoughts about suicide can help that person better manage those thoughts. While the professional support of a trained mental health professional may be needed, being there for a friend is the first line of defense against suicide.
There are resources available, and recently, a national suicide and crisis line was implemented. Anyone can call or text 988 any time to talk with someone who can help.


If someone is talking about harming themselves, keep them talking.
Listening without judging and showing them that you care is important. Stay with the person until they are safe by contacting another caring person. Calling or texting 988 to reach the suicide and crisis lifeline will connect you with a professional who can give you guidance. Remove anything that could be used in a suicide attempt.


There are many causes of suicide.
Frequently there are mental health issues, substance use, losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation. Warning signs include talking about or making plans for suicide, talking about being a burden to others, talking about feeling trapped or hopeless or having unbearable pain, increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from others, mood swings or increased anger or irritability. Many of those signs are also signs of depression. Not all people who have depression have suicidal ideation but most people who attempt suicide have some form of depression.


The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is free and confidential.
There are trained counselors available 24/7. They are available to talk about how to cope with many things including loneliness, abuse, economic concerns, relationships, sexual identity, mental and physical illnesses, and substance use. They can help make connections to local resources.


Out of Darkness Community Walk – Oct. 15
On October 15, 2023 the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will be holding the annual Out of the Darkness community walk in Spokane at Riverfront Park. My family has participated in this walk since 2018 after losing someone to suicide. The walk provides a place of community and hope for survivors of suicide. It offers support to those who struggle with suicidal ideation and encourages everyone to share stories of loss and survival. If you are interested in joining us, check in starts at 9 a.m. and the opening ceremony starts at 10 a.m. at the North Bank Shelter. For more information, you can visit the website at www.afsp.org and search for the Spokane community walk. You can also email me at sinay_b@dragonflywec.com and I will send you a link to the website.


If you or someone else is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is hope and help. Call or text 988. Dragonfly Wellness and Education Center offers local counseling support. Call (509) 724-0221 to set up an appointment.