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Becoming a suicide prevention advocate can help save lives

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – Local mental health professionals want you to know, literally, anyone can become a suicide prevention advocate, and it’s as simple as just wanting to be one.

“It can be anyone of any age that takes an interest and wants to be a part of it,” says Debbie Fitzgerald, Freeman Director of Crisis Services.

Suicide prevention doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult, and, the more people involved, the better

“They say it takes a village or a community to be healthy. We need everyone involved,” says Fitzgerald.

The Missouri Suicide Prevention Network (MSPN) or The Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) are both good resources.

“They have an advocacy handbook. You can actually read the handbook online or you can download it and print it from a pdf. And it actually covers different things,” says Fitzgerald.

Advocates can also sign up to receive alerts about events, training, public policies, or bills working through Missouri legislation that would affect mental health care.

“Bills that could become law that could put safety things in, like mandate training for educators or for medical staff. Or change other types of policies,” says Fitzgerald.

Advocacy can be as big as talking to lawmakers about those proposed policies or as little as hanging up a flyer in your workplace break-room.

Plus, anyone can attend a virtual or in-person training session.

“In a little over an hour, you’ll walk out with resources and materials, and be able to intervene with anyone having a suicide crisis,” says Fitzgerald.

One of those sessions is called “Ask, Listen, Refer.”

Fitzgerald says, “It’s a different suicide prevention. It take probably 15 minutes or less to be able to do it.”

The goal is to bring suicide out of the darkness so others know they aren’t alone.

“Just be someone who can be able to talk about it, that you know a little bit about suicide, you know a little bit how to intervene,” says Fitzgerald.

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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