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Let's talk about suicide to prevent it from happening

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Awareness of verbal and behavioral signs of suicide can be the difference between life and death of a friend or family member. Trish Gemulla, clinical manager for Lincoln?s Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center, recently provided some tips for suicide prevention. ?At least 20 percent of all people in their lifetimes report having serious thoughts of suicide,? Gemulla said. ?It?s a serious subject and something we need to talk about.? Gemulla said creating suicide awareness and prevention means ?having people become comfortable talking about it.? ?If people could become comfortable with asking directly with teens, with friends, how are you doing and getting right to the point if they need to, (asking) are you considering suicide,? Gemulla said. ?You can?t plant that in someone?s mind by asking.? Some verbal warning signs that someone is thinking about suicide include ?people giving hints, saying I?m just done or don?t want to be here anymore,? Gemulla said. ?Some of the warning signs could be saying things like I?m not going to be around to bug you much longer, I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up, nobody can help me, that kind of thing,? Gemulla said. Behavioral warning signs include giving away important possessions, socially withdrawing and isolating themselves, and no longer being involved in sports and other activities, according to Gemulla. ?A lot of times, when (people) start getting to this level of depression, there?s a heavy use of alcohol and drugs,? Gemulla said. ?They start taking other risks like drinking and driving, are more irritable, have attitude and personality changes. Sometimes, there aren?t any signs.? Gemulla said any of these signs ?has to be taken seriously.? ?One of the most important things I?ve learned over time is a lot of people brush it off, saying they are just asking for attention,? Gemulla said. ?And I say yes, they are, and if they don?t, they?ll go as far as they have to, to get it.? If someone you know is in imminent danger of suicide, Gemulla said to call 911 or take the person to a hospital emergency room. ?If you?re talking on the phone to them and they say they have a gun or have swallowed pills or are about to, you want to do something right away,? Gemulla said. ?You want to get them out of immediate danger so if you?re with them and they have a gun or pills, you want to create a plan with them, whether it be with you and dump the pills or have someone who owns it lock the gun away.? If you are considering suicide, Gemulla said,? talk to somebody.? ?Just talking about it really takes a lot of the power away,? Gemulla said. ?It?s really important that a person feeling that way find someone safe.? If someone tells you they are considering suicide or have suicidal thoughts, Gemulla said, listen to what the person has to say. ?What you want to do is listen to them and you don?t want to invalidate their feelings,? Gemulla said. The Mud Run 4 Life event is being held to raise awareness about suicide and what can be done to prevent it. Three Lincoln families, who each lost a son to suicide, are organizing the run. The News Messenger profiles a nonprofit organization every week. To see an organization featured, call 774-7967 or e-mail stephanied@goldcountrymedia. com.