Sep. 19, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Melissa Alvarado, assistant professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at St. Edward’s University, discussed suicide prevention during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. Alvarado believes the key to saving lives is training and accessible mental health care.    

Question: What have we learned about suicide and how to prevent it?

What we know is that suicide is a public health concern, doesn’t discriminate and is preventable. The good news is that there are numerous prevention measures, including destigmatizing mental health issues, increasing access to quality and ongoing mental health care, and promoting social emotional learning. We want to give people life skills such as problem solving, self-regulation, social/self-awareness and increasing connectedness. Reducing access to lethal means is also important.

Question: Which population is most at risk for suicide?

According to recent research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, 2nd among individuals 10 to 35 years old, and 4th among individuals 35 to 54 years old. Individuals with untreated mental health issues are more vulnerable to suicide as well as adolescents and young adults.

Challenge: What would you challenge the public to do to help prevent suicide?

Engage in conversation about mental health and suicide in an effort to eliminate the stigmatization of suicide. Ask and say something. Many times, individuals who are considering suicide find relief when someone shows concern about them.

Identify a group you belong to, informally talk about such issues or plan an event for a training to learn more about warning signs and ways to help. For example, there is QPR training, which stands for Question, Persuade and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. And Ask about Suicide (ASK) training, an informal version of this program is offered by Texas Suicide Prevention.

Lastly, contact your representatives and ask them to support legislation that supports efforts relating to accessible mental health care.