1-800-273-TALK (8255) — or text “TN” to 741741.

Either one will put you in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We urge you to use the one you’re most comfortable with any time, anywhere, if you are in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Pass them on. Write them down. Save them in your phone. Clip them from this page, bookmark them in your browser, or take a screenshot.

Important information like these numbers tend to get lost in a morass of well-intentioned words from well-intentioned writers. They’re hard for someone in a crisis situation to find when they know they’ve seen them somewhere, but their eyes gloss over them because they have to take the time to read to find them. Yet they’re the most crucial resource we can give.

Again, that’s 1-800-273-TALK (8255) — or text “TN” to 741741.

September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a time to discuss a topic many of us have been taught is taboo.

Had we had this discussion two years ago, Cumberland County might have 872 more residents. That’s the number who lost their lives by their own hand in 2017, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health.

It’s essential for us to talk about suicide. It’s the one cause of death that’s 100% preventable, but only if we bring it into the light.

We must learn to recognize feelings of desperation or loneliness. We must ask questions. We must look for drastic changes in behavior, withdrawal from social activities or friends, and/or increased use of stimulants.

Take seriously preoccupations with death and dying, hopelessness and talk about suicide or having no reason to live. They’re all cries for help that may not even be realized. 

Once you recognize the need, be there for the person. Offer them help. Don’t judge. Be direct. Don’t ask why or lecture the value of life. Talk openly. It’s OK to ask if they’re thinking about suicide. And take action: Remove them or the means from the situation, and seek help.

Like calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) — or texting “TN” to 741741.

We’re very fortunate to live in a state that’s taking the devastating cause of death seriously. Tennessee has developed a suicide prevention and evaluation plan. The governor’s Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council was formed to coordinate implementation of the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention. And the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network offers resources from a website — tspn.org — that includes a wealth of information for both those who are troubled and the grieving loved ones suicide leaves behind.

But the resources are only helpful if you use them. Please do. Check out all the information on the tspn.org site. And please, if you’re feeling helpless and in crisis, contact the Lifeline. Their counselors are ready to help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s only a phone call or text. But it could save you life. 

1-800-273-TALK (8255) — or text “TN” to 741741.

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