The song "How to save a life," by The Fray is not about suicide.

It's a song about not having the tools to help someone in trouble, whether they're struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, drug abuse or myriad other problems.

The end result of not having the tools to help them often ends in suicide.

So even though the song isn't necessarily about suicide, it reaches deep into our hearts and let's us know that we can in fact, "save a life" if we acquire the tools to help.

I lost my brother to suicide a quarter-century ago.

I remember talking to him in the days before he decided to end his life. I was his brother, probably his closest friend. We talked about life and dreams and the future  We spoke of his current problems and his hope that things would get better for him.

We didn't talk about suicide. I knew he had thought about it, but I never believed that he would really do it.

I was wrong. I didn't know how to save a life.

I don't want that to ever happen again.

-------- National Suicide Hotline -- Dial 9-8-8 ----------------

Did you know in the United States alone, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, with approximately 47,000 lives lost each year. This means that there are about 129 suicides per day in the U.S. or about one every 12 minutes. For every completed suicide, there are an estimated 25 suicide attempts.

While the overall rate of suicide is highest for ages 45-54, teens, the elderly and military veterans have disproportionately high rates of suicide. If you have a loved one within these groups, get a better understanding of the risks and signs here. Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt it.

Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives. Learn about behaviors that may be a sign that someone is thinking about suicide here.

Talking to someone about suicide can feel awkward and uncomfortable. But, if you have concerns, breaking through your own discomfort could save a life. Showing your concern and directly asking about suicidal thoughts can be vital first steps in helping someone get the support they need.

Here are some tips to help you perhaps "save a life" (source Cigna):

  • Be sensitive to the need for privacy. Approach and talk in a private setting.
  • Be yourself. Use honest and non-judgmental language to start a conversation. Tell the person what you’ve noticed.
  • Use words that you feel comfortable with and that make sense given the situation and your relationship.
  • Be direct; ask if they’re having suicidal thoughts. Give them a chance to talk. You should not act as a counselor or give advice, but let them know you are listening. Remember that it’s not your job to “fix” this.
  • Show your concern and support. Acknowledge the despair they’re feeling. Don’t try to minimize their pain. Let the person know you care and that they are valued. Be kind, even if you feel angry about what they’re considering.
  • Be aware that you may have to break confidentiality. Try to avoid promising to keep what they tell you to yourself, but do promise if it’s the key to being allowed to help. You may need to break that promise to keep the person safe.
  • Help connect with professional help, even if they resists. A person who has reached a point where suicide is an option often does not believe they can be helped. Your EAP is a resource that is available 24/7.

For more resources, go to the website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

-------- National Suicide Hotline -- Dial 9-8-8 ----------------


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