Suicide Prevention Starts with YOU: Life is Precious, Powerful, and Purposeful

For your consideration, please see the following Op-ed Clark Flatt, President, The Jason Foundation; Misty Leitch, Interim Director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network; and Marie Williams, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

If you saw a relative, a friend, or even a stranger choking, you wouldn’t hesitate to try to help.  There might even be a crowd of people trying to help all at the same time.  Our response to suicide prevention can be the same!  If more of us are trained to see the warning signs, effectively respond, and connect the person with professional care, we can save lives.

While social distancing is the best prevention for the spread of COVID-19, the side effects of loneliness, anxiety, and hopelessness can be overwhelming.  People outside the field of suicide prevention often ask what causes people to end their lives.  Frequently, it’s an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.  When someone gets to a point where they see no solution, when they feel no one wants or needs them, feel a profound sense of loss, when the purpose of life escapes. and they truly see themselves truly alone, the risk of suicide ideation increases.  Social distancing can lead to this dangerous side effect, but it does not have to!

Recognizing someone going through the mental anguish of hopelessness is easy.  Reaching out can be easy, too.  Ask a simple question, or genuinely express a caring statement.  Words like “I care about you” or “I know this is a difficult time, but I’m here for you.  Tell me how you feel” can have lifesaving impact.  Make a point to check on a family member, friend, and co-worker every day.  Send them an email or a simple text message to let them know they are on your mind.  Put a chair on your front lawn and make socially distanced small talk with your neighbors!  Let people know they are important in your life and they are needed.  In short, be a friend and let others be a friend to you.

Life is precious, purposeful, and powerful.  Our message for everyone during this difficult time is don’t give up.  There is help, and there is hope.  We are going to get through this together.

If you or a loved one is considering taking your life, please reach out to our Statewide Crisis Line at 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).  You can also text “TN” to 741741.

Want to get trained in suicide prevention?  The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) is holding Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) trainings online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  You can participate in a training by visiting

Learn more about the Jason Foundation and its work to prevent youth suicide at

Source: Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network