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Editorial - Know these 11 warning signs of suicide

Yesterday, September 10, was World Suicide Prevention Day.

While having a "day" set aside to boost awareness about such an important topic is good, the effort to prevent suicides, of course, should be a 365-day a year mission.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services reminds Minnesotans of resources available to people in despair and their friends and family members. "Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy," said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. "As the state agency responsible for statewide mental health treatment, we know that mental illnesses are treatable and we want people to know that help is available when and where they need it."

Mental health crisis services are key parts of the state's mental health system and its suicide prevention efforts, Jesson said. Staff trained in crisis response provide 24-hour call services in most Minnesota counties and tribal reservations.

In addition, mobile crisis response services provide face-to-face intervention for mental health crises across Minnesota. The service is available to any Minnesotan in need and is covered for everyone, including people who are uninsured. It is not necessary for people to have a mental illness to use crisis services. In fact, half of people who contact crisis services are accessing mental health services for the first time.

Every Minnesota county has mental health crisis phone numbers that can be called to access over-the- phone or in-person support, including help from mobile crisis teams. In Douglas County, the number to call is 1-800-223-4512.

In 2012, children's mental health crisis services funded by DHS and counties managed more than 10,000 crises over the phone and 2,600 crises in person with people 21 years and younger. The primary reason for intervention, at 24 percent of all calls, was suicidal ideation or attempt. With crisis team assistance, 72 percent of children who were suicidal or attempted suicide remained in their current home and avoided hospitalization.

In 2012, adult mental health crisis services funded by DHS and counties managed 11,484 crises in person for people who were 18 years and older. Again, the primary reason for intervention, accounting for 28 percent of contacts, was suicidal attempt. An additional 23 percent of the crises involved depression. Eighty-five percent of the adults receiving services remained in their homes and avoided hospitalization.

Other state and national resources include the Crisis Hot Line, (612) 379-6363, a 24-hour free and confidential service taking calls from anyone in need of counseling and support; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK; and the Veterans Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Minnesotans are also reminded to be aware of the 11 warning signs of suicide (the more a person exhibits, the greater the risk):

1. Talking about wanting to die.

2. Looking for a way to kill oneself.

3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.

4. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

5. Talking about being a burden to others.

6. Increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs.

7. Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.

8. Sleeping too little or too much.

9. Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

10. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

11. Displaying extreme mood swings.

In addition to contacting resources listed above or taking a person to a local emergency room, people concerned about a friend or loved one should: Not leave the person alone. Remove firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.