CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Crisis counselors that answer “West Virginia’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline” want to spread the message that everyone has a role in suicide prevention.

Sept. 10 is National Suicide Prevention Day, in which this past week was Suicide Prevention Week. According to First Choice Services, one person dies every 22 hours in the state of West Virginia. Terrance Hamm, director of the lifeline said, “we have competent, compassionate crisis counselors here to help 24/7, but we can’t help those in distress if they don’t know about us.”

Signs that a loved one may need help include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

There are many ways that you can help a loved one who may be contemplating suicide. Vibrant, the company that administers the lifeline, created the #BeThe1 campaign that explains the steps people can take to help those who are showing signs. They are:

  • Ask – Ask the tough question. If somebody you now is showing signs, ask them directly, “are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  • Be There – If they are thinking about suicide, listen to their reasons with compassion and empathy, without dismissing or judging.
  • Keep Them Safe – Ask if they have thought about how they would commit suicide and then separate them from anything that they could use to harm themselves.
  • Help Them Connect – Help your loved one get connected with a support system, whether it is 988, family, friends, clergy, coaches, co-workers, therapists, so they have a network to reach out to for help.
  • Follow Up – Check in with the person you care about regularly. Making contact with them in the days and weeks after a crisis can make a difference in keeping them alive.

While discussing the importance of Suicide Prevention Day, Sheila Moran, First Choice Services director of marketing and communications said, “here in West Virginia we lose about a person a day to suicide, and so it’s a big issue here and it’s very important for people to realize that this is preventable. This is something that we all play a part in helping to prevent. 988 is now also available chat and text and so that’s important. A lot of people, especially younger people, are more comfortable accessing it that way.”

First Choice Services is a Charleston based non-profit that operates fifteen different hotlines in which they include addiction, mental health, and social services. They answer calls, texts, and chats from West Virginian’s that are reaching out for help from the National Suicide and Crisis Line.

The line changed its number in July to 988 so that it would be easier for people to remember. Since the line number has changed, calls from West Virginian’s increased by 22%. Between July 2021 and July 2022, they promoted the text option, and it received a 218% increase in West Virginian’s seeking help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can dial or text 988 for help or information on more resources in your area. Remember that you are worth living the life you have, and that people do care.