Help prevent suicide: ‘I want you to live’

Griselda Chavez and Martha Hoffman

During the Finding Hope presentation Feb. 24 at IVCC, certified suicide prevention trainer Jeff Morris shared his personal struggles to give advice for preventing suicide.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are all factors that can lead someone to thinking of or actually attempting suicide, he explained. They can be caused by things like work, school, the loss of a loved one.

“It’s normal to feel stress,” Morris said. You need to learn “how to deal with stress, because it will always be there.”

He suggested finding positive ways to cope with stress, such as exercise and mindfulness.

Morris defined anxiety as persistent worry about issues, saying it is also a typical part of life. However, it may not be productive. He suggested asking “Can I do something about it?” about each situation. He used the example of being worried about a test and said to go study for it instead of wasting energy thinking about it.

“Either act on it or move on,” he said. “Worry is a waste of time.”

The other factor that can lead to suicidal thoughts is depression. Morris explained that it is also normal to feel down, sad, or blue at times in life.

However, long periods (over two weeks) of depression require treatment in the form of therapy or medication which most people respond well to. He shared his struggles and success, offering hope for those who also struggle.

Morris has spoken to who have attempted suicide and their first thought after jumping, or swallowing the pills, was regret. He has attempted suicide six times and has thought about it more than a thousand times.

“Suicide is not about wanting to die,” Morris said. “It’s about wanting an end to the pain and suffering.”

He shared from his experience that people who die by suicide are just sick, not selfish or cowards. Suicide is not the problem—it’s one solution to a perceived problem.

An effective way to prevent suicide is to notice the warning signs and help the person find help.

Close friends and family are the ones to notice the warning signs first, Morris said. Changes in attitude, drug and alcohol abuse, and changes in sleep patterns are some of the signs to look for. The person may share their suicidal thoughts, and they should always be taken seriously. He stressed the importance of being empathetic towards their feelings and struggles and not saying “to just get over it.”

He used the letters “QPR” to show how to help a person who may be thinking about attempting suicide. This is like CPR, he said. It is “help to get help,” leading the person to counseling or treatment.

“Q” stands for “question”: ask the person how they are feeling and be persistent. Sometimes being straight forward and asking outright if they are contemplating suicide is the first step to saving someone’s life. “P” stands for “persuade”: convince the person to stay alive and show you are there to help. Ask “Will you let me help you get help?” or “Can I go with you?” “R” stands for “refer”: share resources with the person, like the

National Suicide Prevention Lifelilne or contact for a counselor.

“Say ‘I want you to live,’ Morris said. “Your willingness to listen and help can rekindle hope and make all the difference.”

If you or someone you know is suffering, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, talk to someone you trust, or walk into the IVCC Counseling Center (CTC-202) or call at 815-224-0361 or 815-224-0324. You are not alone, and the first step to recovery is looking for help and finding hope.