Viewpoint: Community needs depression educationWe grieve to learn that another young person in our city recently took their own life.
By: Beth and Erik Neu, Viewpoint Writers, Woodbury Bulletin
We grieve to learn that another young person in our city recently took their own life. We are saddened and disturbed to consider that this is at least the third young person to commit suicide in Woodbury within a span of two years.
Our purpose in writing is to encourage the community to find a way to respond to these tragedies, in the hopes of preventing any more lives, young or old, from ending in suicide.
An abundance of resources exist to help us learn more about suicide prevention. The first is SAVE — “Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.”
SAVE is a national organization, based here in the Twin Cities, whose mission is to “prevent suicide through public education awareness, reduce stigma and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide.”
The SAVE website, www.save.org, provides important information about understanding the profound connection between depression and suicide.
According to SAVE, for young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third-leading cause of death. Between 1952 and 1995, the suicide rate in young adults nearly tripled. Depression is the strongest risk factor for suicide.
More than ever, depression can be treated, but it often takes recognition, followed by encouragement, from a friend or loved one to help a sufferer seek out the treatment they need.
Educating ourselves individually is a first step, but we can do even more. Implementing a community-wide suicide prevention program is an effective way to respond to this heart-breaking, but preventable, problem.
In response to a rash of teen suicides, greater Oshkosh, Wis. developed “Community for Hope,” a group "of community members united for the purpose of promoting and supporting mental wellness and building awareness about suicide prevention, intervention, and response.”
By sponsoring the Yellow Ribbon program, teachers, administrators, counselors, police, family and church staff, have all been trained on how to respond, communally, to children in crisis.
As the organization's website explains, the Yellow Ribbon program provides tangible steps we can take to help prevent suicide.
“Business-card sized ‘yellow ribbon cards’ are distributed to students and community members. The cards carry the message that there are people who care and will help, and also include crises intervention phone numbers.
“People who are contemplating suicide, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, who don't know how to ask for help are encouraged to tell a trusted adult that 'they need to use their yellow ribbon card.’
“Adults who participate in the program are given basic training, an explanation of how the program works and a yellow ribbon to wear or display to signify that they are committed to listening and getting help for people in need.
“Participating adults are not asked to be experts in any way, but are simply given training so they know where to go for help.”
We implore the Woodbury community to educate itself on the signs and symptoms of depression and the other risk factors leading to suicide, as well to consider joining in developing a local Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program.
It shakes us to our foundation when we know, or hear of, someone who takes their own life. We encourage anyone reading this Viewpoint, to look at the SAVE website to further understand suicide.
Until we are able to speak openly about the risk factors of suicide in our churches, schools, and health care centers, we jeopardize our ability to prevent these tragedies.
Beth and Erik Neu are residents of Woodbury.