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Related story: A Tribal Tragedy: State’s Native peoples have alarmingly high suicide rates Nov. 21, 2010
These educational resources are specific to suicide among Native Americans and offer statistical information as well as awareness and prevention materials.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
One Sky Center
Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
According to Helping Others Prevent and Educate about Suicide (HOPES), a nonprofit organization based in Madison, people considering suicide may:
- Talk about killing themselves and become fixated on death
- Make statements of hopelessness and belittle their own worth
- Suddenly become happier or calmer
- Lose interest in hobbies
- Start visiting or calling loved ones
- Start putting affairs in order and making arrangements
- Start giving things away
More than 90 percent of those who kill themselves have treatable mental illnesses, such as depression or substance abuse.
Some signs of depression:
- Substance abuse
- Irritability, increased crying, anxiety and panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering.
- Disrupted eating and sleeping patterns.
- Loss of interest in ordinary activities.
- A persistent sad mood.
What to do when you notice a warning sign:
Talk with the person about depression and suicide in a nonjudgmental way to prompt him or her to seek help.
Some questions to ask include: “Do you ever feel so badly that you think of suicide?” and “Do you have a plan?” and “Do you have access to what you would use?” These questions will help to gauge whether the danger is immediate, and if immediate help is needed. Always take action when you learn of suicide plans, including calling 911 or taking the person to the emergency room.
Don’t try to minimize the person’s problems, convince him or her that things will get better or that he or she has many reasons to live. This may only increase feelings of guilt and hopelessness. It’s better to let the person know that help is available, depression is treatable and suicidal feelings are temporary.
If you deem the danger not immediate, acknowledge the person’s suffering as legitimate and offer to help work through the pain. Help to find a doctor or a mental health care professional right away.
Where to seek help
If you are contemplating suicide or have lost a loved one to suicide, these state and national organizations offer services such as counseling and support, or can connect you with help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Call this number if you are in crisis)
Helping Others Prevent and Educate about Suicide (HOPES)
Mental Health America of Wisconsin
Milwaukee office: 414-276-3122 or toll-free 866-948-6483
Madison office: 608-250-4368
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Wisconsin