Category Archives: Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide Prevention Month 2020: Know the Signs

Feelings of uncertainty and instability due to the unknown can take a huge toll on ourselves and everyone around us. According to the CDC, U.S. adults reported elevated of adverse mental health conditions recently. The increase was more significant among young adults, essential workers and minorities. Some people may be  fighting personal battles  –  questioning whether to continue to live through the emotional pain they are experiencing.  

We can all take simple actions to safeguard our mental health and save lives. Learn the warning signs for suicide and what to do if you are worried someone is struggling.

How can I tell if someone is having thoughts of suicide? 

Although in-person interactions may be limited it is more important than ever to be vigilant for those around us to know the signs. Staying connected with regular check-ins is essential so you can recognize the warning signs. If you are worried that someone is having thoughts of suicide, the next step is to find the words and reach out. It’s important to talk openly about suicide, and to ask directly: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Are you having thoughts of ending your life?” Learn about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide at www.suicideispreventable.org

You can also attend one of the Suicide Prevention Month events happening this month: 

  • Sunday, September 20 | 6:00-8:30pm 
    Virtual Screening of the film “S-Word” 
  • Monday, September 21 | 6:00-8:00pm 
    Know the Signs of Suicide Among African American and Other Communities  
  • Monday, September 28 | 6:00-8:00pm  
    Reconozca las Señales de Suicidio en la Comunidad Latinx 

For details and a full list of events throughout September,  visit smchealth.org/suicide-prevention-month. 

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County): 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741 or find additional crisis resources here.  

 #BeTheOneSMC to reach out and check-in with someone you know. 

Voices of Recovery Screening: “The S word”

September is both Recovery month and Suicide Prevention Month. Join Voices of Recovery for a free screening of “The S Word” which will address this important issue and give hope to survivors as well as those impacted by suicide. There will be time for questions and answers at the screening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | 6–8 PM
Please register here.

See the full list of Recovery Month events at vorsmc.org/recovery-happens. All events are virtual. Please register in advance.

If you or some you know is in need of mental health or substance use support or treatment, call Behavioral Health & Recovery Services at 1-(800) 686 0101 or visit www.smchealth.org/bhrsservices

Suicide Prevention Month 2020 calendar of Events

During September, San Mateo County recognizes both Suicide Prevention Month and National Recovery Month where individuals, organizations and communities join their voices together to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented and recovery is possible.  As part of the many activities taking place this month, we are encouraging everyone to show their support by sharing their own stories and resources, or participate in the various Suicide Prevention Month and Recovery Month activities happening throughout the entire month. Together we can find hope, resilience and recovery. 

This year’s theme is  “Stronger Together.” Studies confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that connectedness is an important protective factor overall for suicide and that connectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge, and yet we have seen how communities can come together in innovative and supportive ways.

To show your support for these observances:

  1. Attend any of the free events happening throughout the month in honor of:
    1. Suicide Prevention Month: Calendar of Events Flyer | Most current event updates here
    2. Recovery Month: www.vorsmc.org/recovery-happens   
  2. Know the Signs for Suicide.  Learn how to recognize suicide warning signs, find the words and reach out for help at www.suicideispreventable.org

#BeTheOneSMC to reach out and connect with someone you know.

Mini-Grants & Call for Events – Applications Due Wed, Aug 26 | 2020 Suicide Prevention Month

SPMMiniGrantEventsFlyer

September is Suicide Prevention Month (SPM), which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). SPM aims to empower everyone in the community to prevent suicide.

For 2020, San Mateo County and partners are promoting the theme of “Stronger Together” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that studies show that connectedness is overall an important protective factor for suicide and states, “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships.” 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge, and yet we have seen how communities can come together in innovative and supportive ways.

Each year, the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity & Equity and Suicide Prevention Committee publishes web page of events which promotes the SPM events broadly across local providers, partners and community in San Mateo County. We will also be offering mini-grants for selected recipients.

  • Apply for Call for Events & Mini-Grant: If you would like your event listed on the web page AND to be considered for a mini-grant, please complete this application by Wednesday, August 26th.
  • Apply for Call for Events ONLY: If you would like your event listed on the web page ONLY (NO mini-grant), please email Zena Andreani (zena.andreani@star-vista.org) no later than Friday, August 28th.

SPM event details and updates will be posted at http://www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention.

An Inside Look: StarVista Crisis Center Hotline

One of San Mateo County’s most used suicide prevention resources, and part of  StarVista’s Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Center, is a suicide crisis hotline that operates 24-hour-a-day, 365 days per year.

Call center staff field calls from county residents in emotional distress, dealing with depression, experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety and those having thoughts of suicide. 

More than 11,000 calls were answered last year alone, an amazing accomplishment considering that the call center is comprised of a single desk staffed by just one person per shift who juggles multiple call.

In the most recent issue of the BHRS newsletter, “Wellness Matters”, a call center counselor shares an inside look into the crisis counseling experience as well as his own story of recovery. You can find that article by clicking here.

9/23 & 9/24 – Preventing Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults

In honor of Suicide Prevention month, we are hosting a few events next week focused on preventing isolation and loneliness in older adults. Be a part of the conversation! 

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #4: Self-Care and Resilience

On our last day of Suicide Prevention Week, we would like to remind us all that, as we take action to support others, it is also vital that we take the time to support and care for ourselves. 

The Importance of Building Resiliency. Practicing self-care is one part of building resilience and does not mean you are being selfish or choosing yourself over your loved one. It means that you are simply being mindful of your own needs, so you are better able to support others. You are better able to take care of the needs of others when you take care of yourself. 

Self-care can be as simple as taking a deep breath when you notice you are becoming stressed. By maintaining your physical and mental wellness, you will likely be better equipped to handle the stressors that come along with supporting someone you care about.

Self-Care Strategies to Build Resiliency and Manage Stress. 

When we are most stressed, we have a tendency to ignore taking care of ourselves, so it is important to set time to care for ourselves in big and little ways. 

  • Remain socially connected. When you are supporting someone else, it can be easy to lose sight of your other social connections. Stay in touch with your family and friends who can offer support. Recognize the importance of setting time with positive support networks. 
  • Make time for yourself. When caring for someone who may be suicidal, it can be hard to find time to take care of yourself. However, to be a productive caregiver, it is important to have some “me time.” Healthy activities that makes you feel better is worth a little bit of time out of your day.
  • Know when you need to ask for help. When caring for someone with suicidal thoughts, it is possible to become overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed does not make you a bad caregiver, family member, or friend, it makes you human. There are various resources for caregivers such as NAMI Family Support Groups. These groups offer support for people with loved ones who have experienced mental health conditions or issues. In addition, you can talk to trained counselors who provide free and confidential support by contacting one of the below 24/7 hotlines: 
    • StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
    • Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #3: Validate that a Person’s Feelings Matter

It is important to let another person know what they may be feeling is okay and that you believe in them. 

When reaching out to someone, remember to validate their feelings and acknowledge that they are real. Feelings may not always seem rational or easy to explain, but they are always valid. Understand that people can not control their feelings like they may be able to their thoughts or behaviors. If you are able to show someone that you acknowledge their feelings, it will allow them to feel more receptive to help and support. 

How do I show someone that I validate their feelings? 

Let the person know you hear them and are listening. You may do so by mirroring/echoing/paraphrasing rephrasing their sentiments. Repeat their own words back to them regarding how they’re feeling or what they’re going through. 

Other ways to express validation: 

  • “That makes sense.”
  • “That sounds difficult.”
  • “I’m sorry you are struggling right now.”
  • “I believe you.”
  • “I hear you.”
  • “It seems like you’re having a particularly hard moment.”
  • “It makes a lot of sense that you are stressed.”
  • “You have a lot on your plate.”
  • “Sounds like you’re having a really tough time right now.”
  • “I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling right now.”
  • “That must be really difficult to cope with.”

For an example of how to validate a person’s feelings when reaching out, watch this video from Active Minds. 

Resource: 

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #2: Listen Non-Judgmentally

Listening is an important tool to have in our personal toolboxes to prevent suicide, but listening can be hard! It can be nerve racking to have a conversation about suicide and many of us may feel like we don’t know the “right” thing to say. 

#BeThe1To recommends 5 action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal. ASK. KEEP THEM SAFE. BE THERE. HELP THEM CONNECT. FOLLOW UP. 

These are supported by by evidence in the field of suicide prevention. You can read more about each action step here. 

Listening non-judgmentally may not always come naturally to us. In this video, listen to Dylan, a crisis line counselor, talk about how he devleoped better listening skills while talking to hundreds of individuals who were thinking about suicide. As Dylan says “Listening isn’t really easy” but here is how he developed his own listening skill set.  

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #1: It’s Okay To Ask About Suicide

In honor of our theme of interpersonal connectedness (or #ImHereForYou), we are offering tips on how to help someone who might be considering suicide or facing struggles in life. 

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will increase suicides or suicidal thought. 

Fact: Acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce suicidal ideation. 

Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite; findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

Asking a friend the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates to them that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for dialogue about their emotional pain and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken. Other questions you can ask include, “How do you hurt?” and “How can I help?” Avoid promising to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

It is important to be direct and talk openly about suicide. “Are you thinking about hurting yourself” is not as direct as “Are you thinking about killing yourself”. 

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