What can we do to prevent suicides? | PostIndependent.com

What can we do to prevent suicides?

Mike Bennett



911 if anyone is in danger

1-800-273-8255, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

888-207-4004, Mind Springs Health crisis line


• Threatening to hurt or kill oneself, looking for means (such as firearms) to kill oneself, and talking or writing about death or suicide.

• Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use

• No sense of purpose in life

• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

• Feeling trapped

• Hopelessness

• Withdrawal from friends, family and society

• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

• Engaging in reckless or risky behaviors, seemingly without thinking

• Dramatic mood changes.


Mantherapy.org, Colorado’s website geared toward men

To check the schedule for mental health first aid classes:


Garfield County Suicide Prevention Coalition, information on prevention classes, 970-948-6108

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings: http://www.aa-westerncolorado.org

Narcotics Anonymous meetings: http://www.na.org/meetingsearch

Mind Springs Health locations across the Western Slope: http://www.mindspringshealth.org/treatment/locations

Find a licensed psychologist in your community for ongoing therapy.

Online depression assessment: psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com

The shock of recent suicides in our area may have worn off for many, but the families and friends of those recently lost have a long period of grieving ahead of them.

Spurred by the recent news, I am personally trying to help a friend in need who does not want help. I’ll get to that shortly.

Within a few weeks, the Post Independent will tell stories of some residents who have lost loved ones in this tragic manner. This is a subject people are uncomfortable to discuss, but we believe these stories will help others cope and perhaps even help save a life.

I can only imagine the pain, the loss and the lingering questions for those left behind. Could I have helped prevent a loss of life? Who really wants to air all of this in the public? We hope at least one of you reading this column will do so.

Our recent coverage has hit home with many. There have been too many people who have approached me with their stories of grief. I have realized that nearly everyone has a story. Many have been touched directly or indirectly. Robin Williams’ suicide last year touched a world of people, as he brought light and laughter yet suffered for years with his own demons.

I lost a first cousin years ago when he was just in his early 20s. Daniel contacted several friends and family members by phone just prior to taking his life. All had great conversations and realized later what they clearly didn’t understand at the time — he was saying his final “goodbye.” There were warning signs of course, although we did not see them.

Can I help my friend in need? She is withdrawn and virtually cut off communication with family, friends and neighbors. Ultimately this is far trickier than one would imagine.

Sure, there are the odd couple of times over the last four months that we have been able to talk to her. She has struggled with cancer over the years and has had challenges with relationships of all sorts. While she says she will seek help “tomorrow,” tomorrow never comes.

My friend lives on the East Coast, isolated by distance from family and friends, making this situation that much more difficult. Neighbors don’t see her. I initially contacted the police and learned that unless I could prove she could harm herself they can’t do much. And I can’t come up with that proof.

Candidly, until our recent coverage of suicide I had thrown my hands in the air thinking, “What can I do?” Last week, I realized that I could at least attempt to help. I am in touch with her family and social services local to her area. Can we help her? Time will only tell.

My column today is full of unanswered questions. Mental health and substance abuse certainly are factors in many cases, although far from the entire story. Let me leave you with two questions that stick with me. Why suicide? What can I or could I have done to prevent it?

Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.

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