Talking about suicide: local expert gives advice on starting the conversation

Talking about suicide can be tough on you and your loved ones.

Our friends, family, and even children may be dealing with thoughts of hopelessness every single day.

It’s a harsh reality– suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults in the United States.

Children as young as 10-years-old are killing themselves.

But, that answer to this issue starts at home and it starts with a conversation.

More often than not, there are also warning signs there.

“The vast majority of folks who die by suicide do show some warning signs,” Sabrina Votava said. “Often times what happens is it’s given to 1 or 2 or 3 people inside that person’s life and then the rest of us are blindsided.”

Votava is the president of Fail Safe for Life–a non-profit suicide prevention organization in Spokane.

Votava herself was blindsided back in 2003 when her two brothers each committed suicide in the span of just six months.

16 years later she said it still hurts.

That pain doesn’t go away, but the chance to hold a conversation with someone else does.

“Just say ‘have you ever had thoughts of suicide or maybe do you have any friends that are having thoughts of suicide or struggling right now?'” Votava said. “I want you to know it’s safe to come to me.”

Votava said it’s critical to start a conversation with your children and let them know they’re safe to talk to you.

Spokane Health Officials report about 32 percent of youth in the county felt sad or hopeless in 2017.

About 19 percent seriously considered suicide, and usually there’s a common trend in those people.

“Often times are that a person is feeling disconnected,” Votava said. “They don’t feel like they have a place where they truly belong, and they might not feel like they can be themselves.”

The suicide prevention hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

There are also some support groups you can join if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one who took their own life.

CLICK HERE to learn more.