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Step 5: Empower Participants for Suicide Prevention

The overarching purpose of any campaign rests in the actual implementation of your plan.

With your audience in mind, create a slogan, choose prevention outreach materials, and decide what awareness activities and events will best reach your community.

The most effective campaigns equip participants with practical tools to use when they or someone they know have suicidal thoughts or behaviors. No matter the methodologies you select, focus your efforts around these tips: 
 

TIP #1 – EMPOWER YOUR PARTICIPANTS TO SPEAK UP

Let your participants know it’s normal to feel hesitations about talking to a friend or family member about suicide. However, it’s equally important to equip them with tools to talk to individuals.

 

Common ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I’ve been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“I’ve noticed some recent changes in you and wondered how you are doing.”

Common questions to ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen that made you feel this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

 
 

Common advice that empowers suicidal individuals:

“You are not alone in this.”

“I’m here for you.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

 

TIP #2 – TEACH PARTICIPANTS TO RESPOND APPROPRIATELY

Generally speaking, there are four levels of risk. Make sure participants are familiar with them:

 

Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won't commit suicide.

Moderate – Some suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn't lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.

High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.

Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

 

The following questions can help assess the level of risk:

“Do you have a suicide plan?”

“Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)?”

“Do you know when you would do it?”

“Do you intend to commit suicide?”

 

The different levels of risk lend themselves to different types of response. For low risk to moderate risk individuals these responses can aid in the path to recovery:

Seek out professional help

Follow up on treatment

Encourage positive lifestyle changes

Remove potential means of suicide

 

For high risk individuals:

Seek out professional help immediately

Remove any potential means of suicide

Never leave a suicidal individual alone

 

TIP #3 – EQUIP PARTICIPANTS WITH TOOLS FOR HELP AND SUPPORT

It’s important to emphasize the power of community and personal relationships along with the appropriate resources for help. Ultimately, your participants should know that professional help may be necessary.

Include up-to-date local and national resources that participants can utilize to find information, treatment options, and advice that emphasizes the possibility of recovery and a general sentiment of self-empowerment.

By providing resources and tools that segmented audiences can actively utilize, you are equipping your participants with direct solutions. Focus on recovery and address suicide as the public health issue it truly is.

 

The following resources provide additional information on suicide prevention and crisis

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