Talking can help save someone's life

September is Suicide Prevention Month and this week is National Suicide Prevention Week.

This isn’t a topic most are eager to talk about. But talking is sometimes the one thing that can save someone’s life.

Most people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way, according to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment. And helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopeless.

In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, Hinsdale Central will post 988 materials throughout the building starting this week and will observe Suicide Prevention Week the last week of September.

“We’ll be posting lighthouses around the building for safe places to seek help, footsteps with different mental health facts that lead to the counseling office and announcements that focus on help-seeking,” said Johanna Bruckner, school psychologist and sponsor of the EVOLVE club. “Our goal is to provide hope through finding trusted adults when students recognize signs that they may need support.”

Central students also hear presentations from Erika’s Lighthouse to learn how to recognize the signs of depression and provide ways to seek help. The presentations also focus on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues, Bruckner said, with the hope that more students will seek treatment.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the following behaviors as signs that someone might be thinking about suicide.

• Taking about — wanting to die, having great guilt or shame or being a burden to others

• Feeling — empty, hopeless, trapped, having no reason to live, extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, full of rage, unbearable emotional or physical pain

• Changing behavior — making a plan or researching ways to die, withdrawing from friends or saying goodbye, giving away important items or making a will, taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast, displaying extreme mood swings, eating or sleeping more or less, using drugs or alcohol more often.

Several things may put a person at risk of suicide, including substance abuse, intoxication, access to firearms, chronic medical illness, gender, history of trauma, isolation, age (people younger than 24 or older than 65 are at a higher risk), a recent tragedy or loss and agitation and sleep deprivation.

What can family and friends do to help?

They can suggest the person call or text 988 or text “HELLO” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

For ongoing help, they can point out the mental health resources found on Hinsdale-based Community Memorial Foundation’s website at The foundation maintains a mental health guide that features community and hospital-based mental and behavioral health services in its service area.

They can check out the Hinsdale Central PTO Parent List posted on the website at Parents can read and anonymously write positive reviews regarding local support services for teens, including depression.

They can, as the 988 website suggests, #BeThe1To make a difference in someone’s life, by saving it.