Health: Suicide Prevention stressed

Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation this week declaring Sept. 5-11  as Suicide Prevention Week. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all Iowans and the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year-olds and those ages 25 to 44.

“Last year in Iowa, 414 Iowans died by suicide – an increase of 22 deaths from 2014,” said IDPH Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator Pat McGovern. “Unfortunately, many of those who died never received effective help, partly because of the stigma often associated with behavioral health illnesses and treatment.”

“Most people who die by suicide have talked about it or given definite warning signs,” said McGovern. These signs include things like making a plan or talking about suicide; making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless; suffering the recent loss of a family member or friend through death or suicide; other losses, like a job or relationship loss; use or increased use of drugs and/or alcohol; sudden uncharacteristic behavior changes like increased aggression; withdrawing from activities and people one usually enjoys; or a sudden decline in grades at school or work performance. Talking about suicide is not an easy thing to do, but if you are concerned, your involvement might save a life.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

I have been feeling concerned about you lately.

Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.

I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.

 Questions you can ask:

When did you begin feeling like this?

Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?

How can I best support you right now?

Have you thought about getting help?

Are you thinking about taking your own life?

 What you can do to help:

Be open and honest about your concerns.

Be willing to listen without judgement.

Offer to help.  You can say things like, “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.” or “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

Seek support for yourself and the person you are concerned about.

Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. If you or someone you know may be suicidal, get help immediately. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or go to You may also contact Your Life Iowa by calling (855)-581-8111, texting (855)-895-8398 (2:00 to 10 p.m. Central) or visiting For more information about how IDPH is addressing suicide prevention, visit


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