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It's Suicide Prevention Awareness month: Here are a few suicide prevention tips

This subject is always a tough one to talk about, but we want to be as proactive as we can. We all go through rough times, so asking for help is a sign of strength.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It is Suicide Prevention Awareness month and ABC24 is all about keeping you safe and seeking solutions. 

This subject is always a tough one to talk about, but we want to be as proactive as we can. 

We all go through rough times, so asking for help is actually a sign of strength. That is the first thing to know.

We spoke with a Memphis woman who opened up about losing her older brother to suicide a year ago and is now using her voice to raise awareness on his behalf.

“My world stopped turning for a while. It was so unexpected,” Kaeli Johnson.

It was a devastation that turned Johnson and her family’s world upside down.

“You never expect somebody to commit suicide in your life, especially someone who was so outgoing,” Johnson stated.

Johnson’s older brother, Brandon whom she deeply loved and admired was a lineman for Middle Tennessee Electric Company, who was passionate about his career, family, and helping those in the community.

“He was such a positive person and we lived in a smaller town in Tennessee and I swear he knew everybody. Every time we went somewhere he knew everybody,” Johnson said. “He was such an outgoing and loving person. He worked so hard for everything he had.”

Brandon attempted suicide last October and was in the hospital until he died last November. Johnson said she did not see it coming until it was too late. She stressed the importance of self-care and mental health.

“It’s honestly so important to take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to check in with yourself,” Johnson explained. “Literally, be honest with yourself. Like, ‘How am I doing right now? How am I feeling?’”

Research shows that 800,000 people die from suicide every year. That is twice the number of homicides.

There are certain signs that you should be aware of that could indicate that you or someone you know is suicidal, such as feeling like you are a burden or an increase in alcohol. If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide or displaying signs of suicidal risk behaviors, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Behavioral Health Senior Director Dr. Laura Shultz said you should take extra precautions.

“For people who have guns in their home, that is the leading cause of death by suicide. It is just so important that if you have guns in your home, consider getting some gun locks for those guns, putting them in safes, and locking them up.” Shultz stated. “Because even though you may not have thoughts of suicide, if a loved one in your household or a friend knows you have guns…we want to make sure that they don’t have easy access to that in a moment of crisis.”

Shultz also recommended borrowing the hope of someone near you.

“Maybe that’s a parent, or a friend, or a neighbor, or a partner. Tell someone how you’re feeling. And to that person who’s on the receiving end, you don’t have to have all the right answers. Validate that loved one, let them know that you are there for them and that you will walk with them and help them get connected to someone who can help them,” Shultz explained.

And if that’s not enough, Shultz said you should go to an emergency room, for immediate help. Seeing a primary care provider is also an option, whether you’re insured or not.

“Methodist has put behavioral health services into our primary care practices, so we do take care of everyone. If someone needs help, they’re able to come to a primary care clinic and I would encourage them that if they already have a primary clinic to start there,” Shultz said.

You can also call the national help crisis line at 988. It offers help 24/7 for mental health needs. 

There is also a mental health event coming up next month on the 22nd. 

It is called the Out of Darkness Walk, which is an effort to raise awareness and fight suicide by showing up for yourself, or your loved one whom you may have lost. Click here for more details.

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