The following message was recently sent out by the Executive Director of the Aspen Hope Center, Michelle Muething, mental health resource in our valley:
In the past few days I have been inundated with calls, e-mails and texts about the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why". It depicts one girl's struggle with stressful teen issues and in the end, shows her suicide. Everyone has an opinion on whether this show is appropriate or not, experts are weighing in and people are reaching out for answers.
Suicide is a very real issue; as is cancer, divorce, sex trafficking, poverty, etc.
Suicide is not a disease you acquire or a condition you are diagnosed with.
It is, in fact, an option that some of those who are in despair begin to contemplate when life seems hopeless.
Rather than focusing on the end result, let's all focus on the 13 reasons why we care enough to be talking about this and the 13 ways we can help people.
1. Watch for changes in the behaviors of people we know - major changes in behavior can mean something deeper is wrong
2. Listen for words that have dark meaning. I feel lost, empty, hopeless. I'm a burden, I can't go on, no one will miss me, people are better off without me, I won't be here, I don't know where to turn....The list of helpless and dark words are countless - LISTEN, just take the time to Listen to people
3. Ask questions - don't be so quick to just cheer people up - ask questions about what they are saying
4. Pay attention to life stresses being endured.... divorce, move, grades, job turmoil, etc.
5. Stay close to people you care about and keep conversations open
6. Tell people "YOU CARE" don't tell people everything will be ok, because it might not - but emphasize that you care and will be there
7. Tell people what you see - if behavior changes are drastic say so "you haven't been to ______ in three weeks, what going on?" or "You look different, have you ______ (lost weight, you stopped wearing your make up, you don't dress like you used to, talk as much as before..... )
8. Be specific with your word choice in questions - asking someone "are you going to be ok" could mean anything. Asking someone "You aren't going to do anything crazy are you?" could mean anything - your definition of "OK" and "crazy" will most often be TOTALLY different than theirs. BE SPECIFIC - Have you felt so bad you have thought of ending your life. Have you had thoughts of killing yourself - ending and kill have no alternate definitions.
9. Don't make promises, just make plans "let's call someone" or "Let's go talk to someone"
10. Don't leave people alone when you have that 'gut' feeling something is not right - if you feel it in your gut, you are probably right
11. Stay connected even if they say they are ok or even after they may talk to a professional. Crises come and go, people are ok then not. Keep up.
12. Their struggle is not your struggle, don't own it and more than that, whatever someone says, TAKE IT seriously!!! Even if their problem seems small to you it could be monumentally earth shattering to them and that is what counts.
13. DON'T GIVE UP! If your gut senses something is not right, keep talking, keep asking, keep planting the seeds of Hope and know that there are people who can help 24/7.
Please have conversations and know we are a valley that is not immune to anything - even suicide.
The Hope Center is open to questions, comments, conversations, open dialogue or anything you may be open to or in need of.