How to Play a Role in Preventing Suicide

Julie Naughton, Office of Communications, (402) 471-1695 (office); (402) 405-7202 (cell);
[email protected]

Attention Editors: Nebraska DHHS filmed an on-camera interview with Shawna Hightree, coordinator of the Lincoln/Lancaster LOSS team. Feel free to add their soundbites to your story.
WeTransfer link: YouTube link:

lincoln- September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and every Nebrascan has a role to play in saving lives. More than 47,000 Americans die by suicide each year, but suicide can be prevented. In Nebraska, one person dies by suicide every 32 hours. One of the most effective methods is to raise the issue with a loved one or friend who may be contemplating suicide.

“We know it can be difficult to start conversations about mental health,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Department of Behavioral Health. “Many people can talk about physical health issues but may not know what to say when it comes to a loved one who is facing behavioral health issues. Preventing suicide and connecting people with help always starts with a conversation. These are very important conversations that can save lives. Asking someone if they are contemplating suicide can actually protect them. By asking someone directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel and let them know they have support.”

Family and friends are often the first to spot the warning signs of suicide, and they can take the first step in helping a loved one find mental health treatment. Warning signs include:

Warning sign of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill yourself
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Talk about feeling trapped or feeling like there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Arrange matters, such as making a will
  • Taking major risks that can result in death, such as B. extremely fast driving
  • Talking about or thinking about death often

Suicidality is a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one begins to take any of these steps, seek help immediately and call 988:

  • Collect pills and save or buy a gun
  • give away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

On July 16, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline became 988, an easy-to-remember number that provides direct access to compassionate care and support for anyone struggling with mental health issues or contemplating suicide. For downloadable materials for public use, visit https://dhh​ Nebraskans can call or text 988 and be connected to a trained counselor. If you have a family or loved one you are concerned about, 988 counselors can provide help. Save a life, just call.

It is also important this month to support those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Because of the stigma associated with behavioral health, family and friends of a person who has died by suicide often feel alone in their grief.

Nebraska’s Local Outreach to Suicide Loss Survivors (LOSS) is an evidence-based model of active aftercare (activities that reduce risk and promote healing after suicide). This model involves two or more trained volunteers, referred to as the LOSS team, who proactively provide immediate support to the bereaved. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Don Belau (founder of Nebraska LOSS) and Dr. Frank Campbell (Creator of the LOSS Team Postvention Model), LOSS Teams have been active in Nebraska since July 2009 and are growing.

LOSS teams are made up of trained mental health professionals and suicidal loss survivors. The suicide loss survivors on the team have lost a loved one to suicide themselves, have access to help, and want to be a resource for newly bereaved loss survivors. All members are trained to support survivors in their need.

“Death by suicide often takes the person’s friends, family and loved ones by surprise and leaves them in grief,” Dawson said. “The members of the LOSS team have also faced the challenges of losing a person to suicide, and together with clinicians and trained community volunteers, the team can provide insightful support in the grieving process.”

The LOSS team will only be deployed with the consent of the survivor’s family. In general, the first call lasts an average of 30 to 45 minutes. The LOSS team is focused on delivering a clear message of hope that survivors can weather this time of shock and despair by providing information through a variety of resources available in the community and area.

To find a team near you, visit

Help is available. If you or a family member need help, please contact:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988 from your landline or cell phone.
  • Your faith-based leader, healthcare professional, or student health center.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, anytime. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Emergency Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or SMS 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • Nebraska Regional Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *