Reducing stigma around suicide | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Reducing stigma around suicide

Lisa Utzig Schafer
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. There will be many events taking place around the community that are free and open to the public throughout the month.
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About the author

Lisa Utzig Schafer is the program coordinator at the El Dorado County Suicide Prevention Network. For information about suicide prevention and how you can join their mission to end stigma surrounding mental health, contact her at lschafer@spnawareness.org, or 530-600-6520.

Whether we get our news from TV, radio or online, there is no denying that the onslaught of depressing topics can leave us with feelings of despair.

It can seem like bad things are happening all around us and there is nothing we can do. One issue that is unfortunately reported all too often lately is suicide. From Robin Williams to Anthony Bourdain to Kate Spade, people who seem to have it all are ending their lives. Sadly, its not just famous people in the news who we are mourning for.

South Lake Tahoe has been no stranger to this loss and knows this feeling intimately. If you are wondering how you can help in this tragic epidemic, there are many simple actions you can take that make a big difference.

Don’t be afraid to have the conversation

While mental health and suicide seem to be hot topics in the media, these issues can still be hard to talk about one-on-one. If you are struggling, reach out. It can be scary, and take a lot of courage to share your struggles, but you may be surprised to find that many others who share the same issues.

It is OK to ask for help — connecting with someone you trust is the first step to getting the support you need. If you have concerns about someone you love or care about, reach out and ask them if they are doing OK. Let them know that you are here to listen. Validate their feelings and offer support.

Educate yourself

One of the most important things you can do to prevent suicide is educate yourself. Even if you consider yourself to be a compassionate and understanding person, there may still be aspects of suicide that you are unfamiliar with.

Go online, read articles and watch videos to learn how to break down barriers. It can help to listen to or read about individual experiences, especially if you yourself have never had feelings of suicide or hopelessness.

Get involved

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and a great time to find out what resources are available in your community. Suicide Prevention Network and its local partners are proud to present public events this month that aim to raise awareness and reduce stigma around suicide:

Benefit concert at Lake Tahoe Ale WorX on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 5-8 p.m., featuring Taking Root. All proceeds will directly support Suicide Prevention Network’s efforts to address and reduce the stigma of suicide in the community.

Emily’s Walk for Hope at Lake Tahoe Community College on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The walk will begin with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. to include inspirational guest speakers, registration and coffee. The walk will end with a closing ceremony that will include a non-invasive species butterfly release.

There are many events taking place around the community that are free and open to the public this September, from free workshops to support groups. For a complete list visit bartonhealth.org/SuicidePreventionMonth.

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