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Suicide prevention: Risks and warnings

PHOENIX -- Before intervention, before support, even before treatment ... there is prevention.

Tragically, 36,000 lives are lost to suicide each year in the United States. Tens of thousands more attempt suicide. Every day, families, friends, coworkers and neighbors lose someone they care about. Intervention, support and treatment can help, but to get to the heart of suicide, start with prevention.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a nation-wide toll-free crisis support and prevention resource. The Lifeline points out that life experience includes two types of factors: risk and protective. These are both sides of the constant struggle to "keep it together." Knowing what they are, and what to pay attention to, can help you or a loved one.

Risk Factors
The lifeline has identified suicide risk factors. These aren't predictors; they can only be looked at as factors that increase the chance of attempting or thinking about suicide. They include:
· trauma
· physical illness
· substance abuse
· relationship or career problems.

Protective Factors
Protective factors, on the other hand, are characteristics that can decrease the possibility that someone may attempt or think about suicide and include:
· ongoing medical and behavioral health support
· no access to highly lethal means of suicide
· strong connections to family
· community support
· cultural or religious beliefs discouraging suicide.

Learn more about how both types of factors can affect anyone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Warning Signs
While risk factors can be important, behaviors can point toward issues. Trust your feelings and your reactions. You probably know more than you think you know. Everyone is different, but common warning signs include:
· talking about wanting to die or feelings of hopelessness
· talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
· increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
· withdrawal or isolation.

If you are concerned about someone, there are places to go for help and support.
· Peterson chapel at 556-4442
· Mental health at 556-7804
· Military and Family Life Consultant at (719) 640-9961.
· Military Crisis Line is available (1-800-273-TALK, option 1)
· Self-help information and links to resources at
· TriWest Crisis Line (1-866-284-3743) for West Region TRICARE beneficiaries.

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